NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 87

THE HANGED MAN 85 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE when the hanged man shits we know death has taken over the drool on his lips harden where the tongue gargoyles out and his eyes squeeze out a bit of last light more often than not his genitals stiffen then hang tumescent as if they like him have lost directions the rancid breath rales clicking like vultures feeding or something hissing toward candle flame only the dead can see while legs dance joyously to a melody only the hanged man hears feet pointed as if to pirouette while hooded figures job done disappear in the copse of trees and black faces look up into the even blacker night full of screams fading into the wind like the hooting of owls or bull frogs croaking in muddy shallows throats expanding contracting the story passed on and consumed in a single photo in a family album an uncle a cousin or brother Ethel’s boy or Roman’s eldest dragged from his bed by men in shiny boots and white hoods and slung from the boughs of a tree a grainy reminder of what grief we have never digested and the tree itself still twisted and misshapen a century later as if despite the southern sun fire still burns brightly at its roots