Sackcloth

written by Brooks Haxton

Sackcloth

— Brooks Haxton

I made sackcloth my garment once, by cutting
arm and neck holes into a burlap bag.
A croker sack they called it. Sackdragger
they called the man who dragged a croker sack
between the cotton rows to pick. He dragged
a gunnysack behind him in the ditch
collecting empties. Him they chose
the Likeliest to Sack Seed in the feed store,
or to suck seed. He was your daddy. He sacked
groceries part-time, and they jeered:
you sorry sack of shit. Sackcloth,
which Job sewed upon his skin, was goat hair.
God who clothed the heavens with such blackness
said, I make sackcloth their covering.
Isaiah understood. God had him speak a word
in season to the weary. Speak, Isaiah, now, to me.
Before the stars like green figs in a windstorm
drop, the sun is black as sackcloth, and the moon
becomes as blood. My soul is weary. Speak,
Isaiah. Sing. I was a scholar as a boy:
I cut the neck and arm holes into the burlap,
pulled it on, and cinched it with a hank of rope:
what I have done from then till now is itch.

About the poet


Brooks Haxton

Brooks Haxton, born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1950, is the son of the novelist Ellen Douglas and the composer Kenneth Haxton. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, Haxton teaches in the writing programs at Syracuse University and Warren Wilson College. He lives in Syracuse with his wife and three children.Brooks Haxton's Works:Nakedness, Death, and the Number Zero, The Lay of Eleanor and Irene (Backcountry, 1985) Dominion (Knopf, 1986) Traveling Company (Knopf, 1989) Dead Reckoning (Story Line Press, 1989) The Sun at Night (Knopf, 1997)

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