The Blind Tiresias, Again (A True Memory)

A blind man learned in the law

sat smiling and proclaimed out loud:

“Just wait to see and I’ll tell you what

And watch to see what the white man does!”

“They’ll take all the stuff that’s left behind,

Leaving just the rinds and broken shells,

and other stuff nobody wants.”

“They’ll take it down to the Boulevard,

and those other streets that’s named for us,

like King and Malcolm X Avenue, ”

“The ones where just the Black folks live.”

“To dump it all on top of us,”

“We, who are the poor and wretched ones.”

I looked at him with disbelief and knowing he could not see me.

And then he smiled a rueful grin,

and grabbed my hand to pull me in,

“Hey man, you think I’m kidding you?”

“The white folks about to finish up, that work they started long ago,”

“And when they done they ‘ll be moving out,”

“Like all them pioneers and such,”

“Magellan, Cortez, Columbus and such and such,”

“They bought the stuff which brought them here,”

“They been planning to leave since they hit the Moon.”

At least since you thought the times got good,”

And then he grinned and squeezed my arm to feel my heart or if I ran away and left.

“You call me blind!” He yelled abrupt,

“You better look around,

Right now,

Because they changing money,

And building underground,”

This blind man laughed like an old blues man,

like if old Tiresias had played the harp,

Before the prophesy of some old downfall,

Or like he knelt in an alley door, but knew that snake-eyes were coming up,

Maybe some Greek would hear him now,

An old peasant coming back from war,

After he had sailed the Aegean Sea and seen the drowned and wandering,

A farm boy come down from Attic slopes,

Who thought that War was just a lark,

“You see,” he said with a sly-like grin,

“They ain’t never planned to live here long,

“They’ve might’ve played us all for chumps,”

And then he formed his face to frown,

And staring coldly stared me down,

But seeing nothing I could see,

“They’ll leave once they have

used it all,”

“At least the good parts and things that grow and never can come back when gone.”

“Once they ain’t no more to be restored.”

And then he looked long and stern,

As if he wanted to know I heard.

But what he had seen I cannot be sure.

His eyes were blinking like lights,

First on,

Then off,

As if now his vision had begun to fade.

These are the things I thought I knew,

Before Tiresias would let me part.

And now Tiresias cannot be found,

The Blind Tiresias I need him

Now.

-Albert Turner Goins