At Liberty
Louis Allen, 31 January 1964, Liberty, Mississippi
 
 
The morning train is turning like a compass needle
 
now the night has folded all its schedules
 
in the stands of pine and cedar, all its innumerable wings,
 
and tomorrow he will be gone from the lumber-yards
 
and the farmhouse windows that semaphore like televisions
 
and the vacant hands of Herbert Lee 
 
and the killer and the quiet of having never seen a thing. 
 
Quietly now, while his truck is idling, 
 
dark decides from all the county’s limbs,
 
shattering into birds that shatter then collapse to his skin.
 
Beaks lace eardrum and eardrum, his cheeks, his tongue,
 
their obsidians needling for what he’s seen, 
 
what he would surely tell, so he won’t have to see it, 
 
so he won’t have to whisper it, even once, ever again.
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