Praising Dark Places

If an old board laid out in a field
Or backyard for a week,
I’d lift it up with a finger,
A tip of a stick.
Once I found a scorpion
Crimson as a hibernating crawfish
As if a rainbow edged underneath;
Centipedes & unnameable
Insects sank into loam
With a flutter. My first lesson:
Beauty can bite. I wanted
To touch scarlet pincers—
Warriors that never zapped
Their own kind, crowded into
A city cut off from the penalty
Of sunlight. The whole rotting
Determinism just an inch beneath
The soil. Into the darkness
Of opposites, like those racial
Fears of the night, I am drawn again,
To conception & birth. Roots of ivy
& farkleberry can hold a board down
To the ground. In this cellular dirt
& calligraphy of excrement,
Light is a god-headed
Law & weapon.

“Praising Dark Places” in Neon Vernacular © 1993 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission.