God take them all,
I don’t like to cuss
(she was superstitious),
I don’t believe in hell
anywhere but here,
but they don’t get my share.
(She was old now, dying.
This didn’t take the cake,
not at all, Abe’s murder
happened just before
the worst storm she’d seen
come up in the cotton field.)
I’ll see them go unraised.
(I was too little to listen long,
wish I had now I’m damn near
as old as her.) Tell your pa
he needs to teach you things
I tried to show all my boys.
(She meant you did no favor
to you or any of your kin
if you settled for hating.
She got down the rattle
and shook it good.
Gourd set fire to bones . . . )
It was all over, except for me.
I had my granddaddy’s ear.
He sat back making music.
The wind that was up
died down. I asked him
if a storm was ever over.
(Drusilla read my thoughts:
You’re too little to know that.)
He lived too far away to know.
He let his hair hang long.
Grandpa John stared a hole
in the fire, his eyes stirring ashes.
I could hear the hush all around
sounding like some sleeping beast.
(She didn’t flinch from silence,
louder ceremony than any storm.)
I had to say I hope those two die
someday, and the whore too.
And one night Abe’s killers smashed
into rocks, catching fire by the road
we were driving, Clyde and I,
and passing Diddier’s outdoor
ballroom, we saw the woman
who like both her men was charred.
(I got home before the storm quit
years later, took to the basement, said
World without end over and again,
Cathleen pointing her red toes straight
ahead, crouching over her knees.
I waited to blow her lips my wet kiss.)
(II: 30 October 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander