Remembering the Camilla Massacre, 1868
No one will die today in Camilla on the courthouse steps
and no bodies will wet the soil in the swollen fields
and the crop yields will go unstained by bloody palms
and the farmers will yawn behind their booths at market
as a harrier plummets above the silos, from sky to meadow
vole, and I’ll watch its body ragdoll from its maker.
Whose houses are these punctuating the panorama
acres, whose trees with stiff branches and trunks
wound to root below the earth? I don’t belong here
and when I ask, no one knows about the massacre. Soon
I’ll drive an hour west through Sylvester’s scattered sprawl
towards Tifton, and my grandmother will welcome me,
her voice soft with love, sun lighting up her hair.
It’s good to see you honey. Come on in. It’s good to have you here.
In place of faith take crumb and waste.
A wasted afternoon or wasted view
of Appalachia, little kiss
of pink between the moss that tongues a gun
and finds its love in ownership.
Today the bullets spin a web of flesh.
Today is touched and ugly killing
and nothing’s easy won, you know. Not romance.
Not grape seeds. Not an infant drenched
in smoke and water from a fire hose.
I stuff my accent back into my throat.
The neighbors watch balloons float off
to paradise, watch cops with flowers pinned
to their lapels: marching, marching.