Superhero Origin Story [S. O. S.]

By Jubi Arriola-Headley

It’s Easter morning, & though I hear I’m as likely to catch hell
as be saved if I cross a church threshold, I find myself tripping
over five young girls, not a one yet sixteen, belting “Ride On
King Jesus” (to my mind the blackest hymn ever played) &
oh my sweet children, if you could just hear how those four
sopranos & altos (a pair of each) race each other up a sainted
ladder of notes & half-notes, aiming not to reach the heavens
but by Grace to blast open heaven’s door, so as for all of us
to taste a minute of that great gettin’-up morning, while the fifth sister
does the yeoman’s work, holding that bass-line steady, making sure
that ladder don’t so much as wobble, & as if on cue the firmament
above me commences to burst & spill forth all over this green & gray
earth & a simpler man might’ve thought this some rogue omen, bad
juju, but I have seen the song that rain brings & for a moment, for one
infinite instant I think my own tears are done with down & falling
upward, like my open palms, to meet the rain, for a hallelujah. &
as I’m moved myself to twirl, to spin, to wail the words—Ride on,
King Jesus / No man / can-a hinder me
—I’m quick corrected by
a neighbor: “it’s thee, not me.” I’m not so sure, friend. I hear that song,
that unending crescendo, feels like I’m the one who’s unbreakable.


Part of the Read By Miami poem film series, produced with O, Miami.

Directed by Eric Felipe-Barkin.

Reproduced with kind permission of the poet.