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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:
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