Self-Portrait as High Priestess of Soul

Wesley Rothman


Of Soul, pulled like a silk handkerchief
from the ball-fisted performer. Off-tone
between-tone fizzle of a broken heart.

Relentless rhythm marches through
history’s riot. The pocket square flutters.
A moaning language, full as a belly,

sputters hot notes toward the track’s slow
simmered fade. Knees lock the time. One-
step, two-step. Knees rock with time.

Voices rise, full of smoke. White
silken ash—the a cappella—of the head,
in the head, from the head escapes

slick spirit air. The great chapel
rises full as a lung. Flames sung
from white clapboards, from the steeple.

Heat burrows into the body of wood
or the wood of a body. Even the ash
in its silent scatter stays warm.

Soot lands, silk opening and sent windward,
loosens a gutter hum, the throat’s thrum.
Spread thin, Soul thrives, the low and the sigh.