KR OnlineSpecial CollectionsThe Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

indigo sister

Can we make love to the rhythms of a “little early Miles” when he may have spent the morning of the day he recorded the music slapping one of our sisters in the mouth?
        –Mad at Miles, Pearl Cleage

mama gave me mad at miles when i was thirteen,
          like angry was a book
                    every woman should have in her library.
i didn’t hear him play until three years later,
          hadn’t known a trumpet
                    from a treaty; had only tasted jazz from hot
churchfuls of women who’d lost sons to thighs peeking
          through slits in smoke-filled
                    powder rooms that crooned someone’s half drunk gospel-and
i wasn’t sure if i could listen to those notes
          after what he’d done to
                    cicely—with an empty blue bottle and thumbs
used to making music when they pressed down—wasn’t
          sure that i could unwind
                    to what he’d played, notes he may have written to her,
midnight notes someone may have hummed to me too. i
          can’t know if most women
                    spend evenings with indigo sealing up their lips
in the bottom of their own basements, police with
          their blue-knuckled boyfriends,
                    chuckling over their screams, but that afternoon, i
played his kind of blue over and over, until
          from the trumpets, all i
                    could hear in the high notes was her, singing the blues.

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Michaela Jenkins attends the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. She is from Columbia, South Carolina. She enjoys reading and cooking.