Jeffery Renard Allen's Poetry

                                                                    The Clearing

                                                                                      --for Lauryn Hill

In that kingdom to come
           that scripted promise known as zion
the sea-changed blacken the horizon with chopping rhythm
Row and rest and range
buoyant vessels of wrath

Dawn hammers a ledger mean, measured, made

Razored wings open us
Valley and brook pulse red with our pumping inner life

Refrained years behind
we ring,
belled anger

A charged hand thumbs our blind foreheads with berry juice:
Paid
We purchase coats in the coin of life to come

Then the siren issues her singular call

At the stream's edge
one hundred forty-four thousand gather
waying with skyward eyes,
robes humming and the new song on pitched lips

No longer must we kneel before the stumblingstone
No longer must our palms shape the clay of offense

The final hour
children are counted for the seed


December 7, 1998