Thursday, April 19, 2012

What Can I Say . . .

What can I say no one but I can say?
My name. I’m told I could find my name,
forename and family name, in Mississippi:
my doppelganger, whom I’ll never meet,
Floyce Alexander. Nor is the name anywhere
in the original Welsh no one I know could say
who had not tarried in Cardiff, Swansea,
or the coalfields of southern Wales
Floyce Been came from to Arkansas,
competing like my father with the mules
pulling full coal cars up the long tracks
running like a ladder all the way to the top.
The men complained the bosses erected no veils–
that was the word–between raw gas and air,
and first fire, then explosion, all breath too far
above to reach underground. So many years
and then fracking, before its name, was torn
from its mother filled with her green bounty.
In the boom that day, as in I have been,
and am no more, his name already passed
to me two years before because my father’s
first son Robert Rufus died at two months,
no hospital letting him in my mother’s arms
pass through its doors, and two years later
she went in, came out, took me home
to the house edging wild pines where fireflies,
mockingbirds were seen and heard . . .
seven years before my birth certificate finally
appeared with the name my father sought
so unusual I might live . . . That was my South
and I no more its son than the tall Welsh-
Cherokee-Scots woman who mothered my father,
six sons in all, three daughters . . . their father
dead in the street at dawn in Sallisaw, Oklahoma . . .
her newborn twins, Beulah and Lahoma,
buried next to him, his murderer freed,
my father said he wore the same ring
the judge wore, exoneration followed,
stoking American ashes older than its fires.

                                    for some of my dead

(12, 19 April 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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