i am southern hear me roar i am burning flags bearing crosses i am scarlett and prissy like a piece of carmine velvet at christmas don’t know nothing bout birthin no rabies so don’t come foamin at my mouth i am miss dixie and a miss is as good as a guile i am a daughter of the con-federacy come on dad don’t you know me here let me put on this hood and sheet do my eyes look more familiar now surrounded by bleach i am southern damn it y’all keep forgetting my birth was our wedding till death do us part i took the gal out of tennessee but the south came back to me the north left me cold though there’s southern heat i could do without i.e. stick to barbequing cows and pigs but i’ll take a late summer and a fall so long i land right back in piedmont eden hell it’s hot i am southern got this drawl that comes from s-wallowing final consonants cuss words loose meaning gonna spew it all back at you sew it in ink on the fabric of a myth of a land of cotton on page after rotten page book away book away book away dixie-banned o swee-tea honey sugar dumpling pie i’ll swallow more so much sweet stuff my magnolias will shoot out blossoms protruding raw cane this is my legacy the freak will inherit the mirth aw aw aw mammy don’t you want me don’t you want me home come on mammy i mean miss anne i may be your ugly duckling now but those folk up north will see me no more when i get to that swan-y shore
she made connections, drew, created them –
or had they been there, waiting to be found?
the rain went drop, drop, and a silver tomb
of ice encased each branch and limb. the ground
whispered its wish, the limbs bent to hear, tried
to cry, the tears stuck fast. it broke them, fear
they wouldn’t see spring, and they didn’t. sighed,
the slender trunks, into postures of prayer,
and now they shoot their buds at her, like green
fires, sap barreling along, parallel
to earth. the axes went chop, chop, to fell
the hangers-on that threatened overhead,
the wood that would not. the will to (be) read(is) (in) a splintered language, meant to mean.
Evie Shockley has published a half-red sea (2006) and The Gorgon Goddess (2001), both with Carolina Wren Press, and recently guest edited a special issue of MiPOesias featuring the work of contemporary African American poets. She also writes fiction and criticism, which can be found in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, African American Review, Talisman, and elsewhere. Shockley is a Cave Canem graduate fellow, the recipient of a 2003 residency from the Hedgebrook retreat center for women writers, and an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is at work.