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Harlem Cultural Festival, 1969

As though Eve herself,
in all her intricate glory,
electrified once again the rib,

as though her twin lungs, rumbling
with divine breath,
let loose,

Mahalia & Mavis emerged—
earthy minerals—nitrogen,
phosphorus, calcium,
thundering in their throats,

vibrato with lightning
parting the sea of thick air,
emitting the ancient

musk of dawn’s first rain,
reverberating between centuries-
old blame,
dusky joy, & hard-won

by the confluence

of Dorsey’s hymn with bluesy strings,
gospel keys, & twilight

it was their turn
to translate,
all in one accord,
groans of the Ghost—
yes, Holy!—

before the throne, imploring,
insisting, Hold my hand,
lest I fall—
so what precious Lord
would ever say no?

Photo by Kin Li on Unsplash

Julie L. Moore

A Best of the Net and eight-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature's 2018 Book of the Year Award. Recent poetry has appeared in African American Review, Image, Quartet, Sojourners, SWWIM, Thimble, and Verse Daily. Learn more about her work at

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