Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gardens of Earthly Terror

They could be out of Bosch, but I can’t find the book
full of colored plates that unfold into the triptych,
so I need to remember what I don’t know
and can’t now, it was all there before I was born.
Charles McAlexander on his sorghum field
seeing the neighbor wrestling with a headstone
helps him through the task and inside the house,
the neighbor’s, sits watching the man he knows sober
drinking, insisting he take one too, Charles saying no
going to the door but gets no farther than the knob
when the shotgun blows buckshot into the back
of his head. This I have heard happened in Virginia
on a farm in the mountains outside Woolwine town
seventy-five years before Abraham Alexander stood
staunchly in the way of the two men and one woman
present to rob the house of the man who left it to go
I know not where, beyond Sallisaw. I do know some
time later I learned of that and how the men showed
the judge their Masonic rings and the woman must
have stayed with both of them after that, for she was
in the culvert by the highway that ran past Diddier’s
outdoor dancehall on the way to Fort Smith pooled
in her own blood, and theirs, my father stopping
in a squeal of breaks from his 1937 Chevrolet sedan
to say who they are, my mother shielding her eyes,
one son born and dead, and another not yet born.
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys played for dances
at Diddier’s. My mother said they died because God
willed it, my father silent, remembering his father
living alone in Sallisaw when he and his brothers
visited from the farm south of there. His mother was
a bitch, his father said, but served them sandwiches
of peanut butter and jelly on white bread and made
them agree, This was all like being alive in heaven.
When I look at the pictures I become one of them.
When I gaze at Bosch I believe I can see where
they were born, Earthly Delights, Abraham left
to ride with his murderous brothers south. One
killed the black man in town with a razorsharp knife
because the man taunted them every time they came
to Woolwine, my father saying what his father said.
I like living where guns are called culture. I feel safe
in the bosom of my ancestors feeding hungry worms.
I tramp the fields prepared now to mete out justice.

(26 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

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