Memphis is the most beautiful of cities.
Ghosts dance & sing the blues along the boulevards though this is often mistaken for marches. The difference eluded me at first.
I had spent some time running away, found myself in the South. I had taken to leaving my bed & roaming the night for weeks at a time. There was no rationale behind this. I was simply running. You may say that I was following ‘the’ ancestors, trying to find myself in their inverted footprints, but haven’t I always known?
Don’t you, too, know my origin? Don’t you know the name of that river?
Amnesic Reader, myself the same, even you must know to play in the mud of its banks!
I needn’t give you my telling; it’s turbid & unambiguous.
The stench of that room of mine had become numbing; I came to Memphis on the last ashes of my wanderlust. The ghosts were all shoeless. It is true. The once-was-still-yet-still-here men & women were all carrying their shoes. By daylight (if you can believe the preachers), the streets were littered with broken glass bottles & cigarette embers. As I had saw it, each street was washed clean. Perhaps by the ghosts’ songs?
Their Dark feet were studded with glass shards & left that solemn kind of trail that I’d first seen on that pillow of mine or maybe around that once-was Dark child that’s always on the news. The true origin of this eludes me.
This I remember clearly— their feet were moonlit & so luminous.
Knowing my own body a constant ache, I thought perhaps only the spirit could ever truly mourn. I wondered for how long they would go on & sing his blues. I had become obsessed with when (not if) they would turn to ash & more than anything longed to witness this.
Marlin Figgins is a student at the University of Chicago. He is from Detroit, Michigan. Marlin's work has appeared in The Shallow Ends, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Cotton Xenomorph.