Back to Issue Twenty-Nine.

The Color Purple Rain: An Elegy & Ode


We all know that losing & loss begets devotion—
Prince has risen. Alice is an elder; we age & falter.

All of his purple life, he showed us how sinners coo
like angels & saviors wail like electric guitar solos

at once. All of hers she had to fight, write for us
in painstaking detail the difficulty of parsing,

telling it all apart. Speak, Lord, through art!
Dearly Beloved, God been forever trying to tell us

something! A prayer: royal & right as rain, may cycles
abuse shatter on pavement, not seep into soil

as rivals jam their way to truces, earn
forgiveness as old men. Let the lovers

un-ball their fists, juke & slow drag
until dawn pries them apart

to put on coffee, one more day to finesse
how to love without catching hands

or burning it all down. Let the lovers
we would die for rescue us on the back

of their bikes, holding tight to their waists.
Let Shug serenade Apollonia while Celie samples

the pleasures of a petal-soft man. Give
the sisters back their tear-stained letters,

Sofia back her sass & good eye. Welcome
long-lost children home with new language

in their mouths! Somewhere warm & not alone,
The Kid will never be like his mother

or his father; the step-dad’s sick urges will die
long before his heart bursts mid-stroke so

another girl won’t have to heal into a woman,
recover herself to thrive—hallelujah! Hear me, Lord!

Let Morris Day & The Time, Harpo &
The Revolution play harmonicas, flap their arms

until wings grow, almost stealing the show!
Let The Kid’s spirit guide us all, Mister

& his pappy too, through lavender fields—
only see us laughing, we are the stars.

The author of Starshine & Clay (2017) and She Has a Name (2013), Kamilah Aisha Moon‘s work has been published widely, including in Harvard Review, Poem-A-Day, PBS Newshour, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize winner and 2015 New American Poet who has received fellowships to MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center and Hedgebrook, she holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Agnes Scott College.


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