Dawn Singer in College Bathroom
by Ed Davis
I know only his voice, ringing among ceramic
chrome and pipes where, stalled, I’m besieged
by sixties R & B: a capello, falsetto,
a young black man croons trembling tune
before the glass, his hands slapping marble
while bathroom walls boom like a cave.
I clamp eyes closed where I sit.
I am convicted by his sweet testimony
of being a prose-droning,
poetryless Standard English hack,
lacking the brashness to flute truths,
harmonize brain with the body’s business.
My armpits pour and my milky knees quake
while I contemplate teaching Comp I where I
force-feed poor students syntax and grammar.
How dare he sing, at quarter of eight,
here in my most private of public places?
I listen to the dream-singing of this
last living Temptation, boogying
to music leached up from the gut
by soul’s thirsty roots. And suddenly
his song gives me grace, lifts the top
right off my head and inserts a prayer,
kneads my mind with fingers that know
the connections to the heart’s most giving place.
I soon emerge, but my tunesmith’s gone,
and I’m left alone in this neon church
like a stood-up bride, half-angry yet
hopeful, heart groping toward belief
and longing to choke back verbiage and
let butterflies escape from my mouth,
metamorphosing into stained-glass sounds
like his that will Niagara in platinum spumes,
falling on all the ears of those needing
the healing that dawn singing brings.
(From the chapbook Healing Arts,
Pudding House, 2005.)