Canzone in Blue Then Bluer

Vievee Francis

There wasn’t music as much as there was
terror so the music became as much a
part of the terror as the terror it-
self the swell of the arpeggio building
and breaking, building and breaking, upon the
shores of you. Your shores washed slowly away but
not slowly enough, you feel it, every grain
of sand a note going under, bluing the
body, granular and wet. This has happened
before. You were not special. You belonged to
no group of any more particular concern
than another. But the music has become
you. The hurt coming out, from your open mouth, could
open a grave. Let every done-wrong hain’t throw
its head back and groan. Not done-wrong as in some-
body loved left, somebody is always left,
but someone who deserved to live as much as
anyone else who died by another’s hands
or neglect or the indifference of someone
who cared less or just not about you. And you sang
like you cried until the music of leaving,
of long-gone became you. Does it matter how
many strings? It only takes one to make this
music. But let’s say it was the sound of
a choir that accompanied the run of
blood down a leg. Let’s say a violin sped
its notes down the side of a neck, a tirade
of pricks. Or a high C from a voice thrown sharp
as the pieces of skull a bullet through the
head would leave. Or the river, the river rush-
ing cold and rock-bottomed, with its own furious
song carries you with it, sings you right over
the falls. That is when terror is not blue but bluer,
blue, as capillaries bursting from an eye,
blue as the vein under this razor, blue as
the skin beat so far it breaks into song, a
song like this. I’ve sung this so many times dear
my voice has almost given way, and I’m so scared.

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Vievee Francis is the author of three books of poetry: Blue-Tail Fly (WSU, 2006), Horse in the Dark (Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize, 2016), and Forest Primeval (Hurston Wright Legacy Award and the 2017 Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award). Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, Best American Poetry 2010, 2014, 2017, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. She serves as an associate editor for Callaloo and is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Asheville Poetry Review

Number 27 / 2017

Asheville, North Carolina

Managing Editor: Keith Flynn
Associate Editors: J. W. Bonner, Luke Hankins, Pat Riviere-Seel

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