The day I came to talk to my uncle about the letter
was a day a shimmering came over the world, everything
that was not me stepped away so that I would not die
under the weight of walking with the devil, as the world
is Lucifer’s, and everything is his imagination,
the traffic, the signs, the old road out of Baltimore,
into Catholic Maryland, a horse farmer’s state, each thing
I thought I could touch was only there because I intervened
against thought waves from Pandemonium, and my uncle
walked onto his porch, half bent from strokes, smiling,
and I remembered in a second how he can turn cruel
when no one is looking, and I remembered in a second
how much I love him, and in another second the shame
of being shut away in asylums, made mad by what makes
children mad, how we are shuffled away, our words
taken to be nonsense or lies the insane create–
I walked over to him, met his smile with my smile,
saw the faces of our ancestors in his face, the bald spot
that is becoming mine, as we walked into the house
to talk about mistakes and failure or how his computer
was stuck and he could not write back to online prostitutes–
outside God put the world back into His divine order, being
becoming being, waves of heat rising from my prayers.

Afaa Michael Weaver is the author of 14 collections of poetry, including The Government of Nature, which won the 2014 Kingsley Tufts award. A former Fulbright Scholar and the recipient of fellowships from both the NEA and Pew Charitable Trusts, he serves as Alumnae Professor of English at Simmons College in Boston.