Johnny Cash 1932-2003 It was easy to say, young. It was easy to say, summer. Summer. Fruit bled from trees. I loved a married man, and in the months after, it was easy to say I wanted trust. I wanted wisdom. I wanted my father. Doctors said it, perched on chairs; friends, leaning over coffee. But what I wanted was dead. What I wanted crawled into a Tennessee cave to die- the country singer, clad in black, hopped up on amphetamines-but did not die, not then. Then: the rocks were like palms, a choir of elbows. Jesus smiled from the water- cupped pit. And when he returned, leaves clung to his chest. He sweated out the drugs, married, lived to be seventy, sang holy, holy. Do you understand? It is not the going under. That we managed, ascending the stairs, steered toward the bedroom. Each push broke through my body until he was past my body, until he was piercing the quilt, the frame, the rug, the floor, the plaster- stitched ceiling with perfect stars, a path like the newspaper picture of the burned house. Upstairs, a fire cut through the bed, the blankets, clear to the first story, in the sleeping shape of the child who had died. He could give me death, the utterance of desire, the slick walls, the mineral scent, the weight, the lips, enough skin to drown. What he could not give, what I wanted: it was the rising up.
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