They married in ’34, in ’36 Bobby was born and died,
Floyce came two years later. They always said,
If not for Mr. Roosevelt we’d all be dead.
With no other evidence of life than a body’s breath,
bodies graduating, the son called it, from the long rows
of cotton bloodying their fingers, weighing their shoulders
as each bag was filled with a hundred pounds
before beginning with one empty, as though yokes
grew out of their necks . . . and after that the higher degrees
of underground heat, grown men who rode the flat beds
down before dawn and after dark riding them up
to wash off enough coal dust to see the road home,
take a long tub bath, eat and sleep, get up again
before dark for another day in the coal mines
near the camp where his father was born, Mine 18
before its name was changed to Jenny Lind,
the Swedish nightingale, who never visited.
The son climbed trees watching for passers-by
along the dirt road where his mother said she saw
men in white gowns and hats riding horses somewhere.
Someone’s not taking care of his family, he remembered
his mother said the man who raised her said.
You saw the Klan go by, her son offered.
That came before FDR saved their lives.
He was grown and had gone through school as far
as a body can. This one believed in evolution.
Then he saw for himself revolution
in the making. He married one. She made
another possible. He threw in his hand to hold beauty
in his arms. Irish, she wanted to help America stay
alive. She never stopped believing in the man
from Oahu, our president Obama, a real man,
she said. He feels into the heart of our country.
for Karenlee, and May 26, 1972
(26 May 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander