Elephants in the Fall
for Micah and Miles
1. Micah Michael Zamir Betts
November’s flame in that year of hard sunsets,
of winter’s plangency & days when
my insomnia courted cognac.
All our thoughts were beginnings,
& you became the roundness
that grew to a moon
above your mother’s hips.
We waited without a name
for your wonder
& three days after your birth
twice named you after the uncle
you’ll never meet. The names
questions: Micah, who resembles God.
Michael, who reminds us of who has gone too soon.
& we pronounced Micah as we wanted: Mekhi,
because like the kid from Clockers,
we scrape fists and cuffs for the dreams of you.
& now, when on most days your body
is all blur & bustle –
Our song is how right we got it,
when the light from that moon spilled
out of your mother’s belly, I tell
you, you were smiling then,
as if you knew you were the first song
that found me worthy.
“Elephants in the Fall” is performed with Tsitsi Jaji, and is from Bastards of the Reagan Era (Four Way Books, 2015).