lives and writes in Oxford, Mississippi.
Her writing has appeared in journals including FlatManCrooked, Fiction Weekly, Memphis Magazine, and Bookslut.com.
This is her first poetry publication.
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She steps from nowhere,
her yellow dress a nightmare
of marigolds and lace,
she drifts past stores, spitting
and searching, muttering
Nelse, Nelse, come home.
There is no statue. No plaque
to point her, though she never
could read. His footprints
are paved over, the mob long
dead. Still, she thinks she can
smell him beneath the beer
they now serve in the used-to-be jail
where he tossed one hot August,
stinking with fear. She glides
like pulled rope, past servers
and tables, then collapses
in a dust devil of ash—
Which tree? Which limb?
The man who bewitched her.
The mob that witched her.
A mouth harp hums mercy in the wind.
Where our grandmothers come from is gone—
dusk blossoming in a jar, the jar thrown
in a river, the river reflecting bare trees.
In the half-light of the kitchen, I see
the old ways in my cousin’s eyebrows,
yearning towards her widow’s peak.
Her restless hands fold American cheese
into large squares, then smaller squares.
It is the unmaking of the quilt.
The old generation spoke only
in tomorrows, as if the past
were a dead animal poisoning our well.
One evening the night-gowned children
will perform the tissue dance and leap
across the yard. We will say their bodies
are remembering. We will say they are
building a map so our ghosts can find us.