ELEGY

By Amorak Huey

 

So we listen to Purple Rain and try to remember what it felt like to be 14 and plugging cassettes into our jam boxes to brace ourselves for a decade spent pretending to be a human being. Mostly it was wondering how the rest of the world seemed to know so much about sex. Music doesn’t go away, that’s the saving grace of a day like this when it’s been threatening to rain but not raining, when the horses are restless in the fields and the moon is full, or full enough. The end of the world is signaled by piles of salt from the evaporating seas. The electricity might go out yet. We make lists of foods we have not eaten, movies we have not seen. I do not think I ever saw Purple Rain, but I played the tape until it wore thin and then tangled in the player, and I feel like I’m supposed to say something meaningful, that “When Doves Cry” helped me make sense of my parents’ divorce that year, that I have masturbated to “Darling Nikki,” that I always forget “Raspberry Beret” isn’t on this album. But those are lies or mostly lies, and I have nothing more profound to offer. Language and grief, grief and language and the unshakeable sense that I’m running out of time.


Amorak Huey is a former newspaper journalist and author of the poetry collection Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015) and the chapbook The Insomniac Circus (Hyacinth Girl, 2014). He teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.