A Poem by Jericho Brown

From his collection The Tradition

April 8, 2019  By Jericho Brown

after The Jerome Project by Titus Kaphar
(oil, gold leaf, and tar on wood panels 7″ x 101⁄2″ each) 


I am writing to you from the other side
Of my body where I have never been
Shot and no one’s ever cut me.
I had to go back this far in order
To present myself as a whole being
You’d heed and believe in. You can trust me
When I am young. You can know more
When you move your hands over a child,
Swift and without the interruptions
We associate with penetration.
The young are hard for you
To kill. May be harder still to hear a kid cry
Without looking for a sweet
To slip into his mouth. Won’t you hold him?
Won’t you coo toward the years before my story
Is all the fault of our imaginations?
We can make me
Better if you like: write back. Or take the trip.
I’ve dressed my wounds with tar
And straightened a place for you
On the cold side of this twin bed.


“Correspondence” from The Tradition. Copyright © 2019 by Jericho Brown. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.

Jericho Brown
Jericho Brown
Jericho Brown is author of the The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. The Tradition also won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the director of the Creative Writing Program and a professor at Emory University.

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