Blind Boone’s Blessings

By Tyehimba Jess

Bless the fever in that night
in the sixth month of my life.
Bless the fever, for it gave me sight;
it swole my brain to fit God’s gift.
It brought the hand that would lift
each eye from my infant skull.
Bless the sweat; my baby bawl.
Bless the horse that hauled
the surgeon through dusk’s dark,
half drunk and swearing, into mine.
Bless the flame—it sterilized
the metal of the spoon. Bless the
path between lid and bone,
slipped and slid by that instrument
of my deliverance from sight. Bless
the handling of the knife. Bless
that night that gave me night,
wrapped it ’round my bloody
face, whispered how I could be
grace notes, arpeggios, a piano roll
of sound copying each note
from everything around me.
You see, I’m sure at first
there was the hurt
and the scalding pain.
But then again, bless
an infant’s too short
memory. All I know is
what lies beyond light.
I’ve learned this is what’s right
for this one right here. Yes, bless
the fever, then listen close.
Spare an ear to this piano
and shut your eyes closed…


*Selected for the 2021 Film and Video Poetry Symposium*

Directed by Matthew Thompson.

From Olio. Copyright 2016 by Tyehimba Jess. Used with permission of the author and Wave Books.