14 March 2010

Blind Willie's Wife

Broke bottlenecks for him, told him, tune to open D,
told him, Willie quit growling that gruff, fake bass,
let your sweet tenor take off and ride.

She would harmonize, then break him another
bottleneck , grind it down quick on a cement stair,
leave little glints of glass dust on his shoes.

She knew his hands, way he thumbed the bass line,
knew his voice and how he couldn't keep from crying,
how, together, they'd give over to gospel,

slide right up the string, Lord, right up the string,
smooth as Willie's finger in a bit of broken glass.

—David Wright, from A Liturgy for Stones

Blind Willie Johnson

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