Friday, January 14, 2011

Uncertain Terrain

Where do we meet you and I?
We've come from the same world,
lands apart.

Separated by causeways,
rivers, hills, and used
car dealerships.

Tethered together by vines
of Kudzoo. A plant so
ubiquitous and so foreign
to the land we admit to share,
but so seldom dare
to embrace
in the eyes of our
Northern cousins.

Where is The South
in the world?
On the globe it's
north of the equator.
mild, Serene,
sweet, sour,
soft, hardly perfect.

It's just right
in the middle.

But the twang
is the sound of
Motion-sick mountain drives
and stern silent glares
if you don't mind
your manners.

It doesn't matter that
we stopped using the
That George Wallace
That grand-paw cried with
company in the living room
because it's too
hard to change.

We have skyscrapers,
malls, museums.
We have everything we need
for geeks, gooks, krauts,
japs, frogs, towel-heads,
and Afro-Americans.

We can feed and clothe and
house our own and
our visitors too.

There hasn't been a lynch
mob in ages, and mama
loves her new black

So what does it take to
Love OUR home?
The land of color?

Corn flower blue,
Big Orange,
the Crimson Tide,
where folks like things
Chicken Fried?

The land of Blue Grass,
Golden-rod and indigo.

Yellow bellies,
red clay,
red necks,
blacks, whites
and browns?

Where August is as long
as the drawl and about
twice as thick in
The Smokies,
the French Broad,
and on the Delta.

Where hearts are open,
and minds are too.
Where mouths take pride
in what hands can do.

What does it take to Love
this land?
This people called 'trash'.

Why is it okay only to
hate her?

The big and broad,
skinny and long,
missing toothed,
big footed
bare back blue eyed blonde?

With her frail features,
warm heart, and pale hands,
she consumes the shame and agency
of all who wash up on
her newly swept door step.

She answers the door
in a night shirt after
it's far too late for visitors.
And we come inside,
and try to claim her.

To wash the indelible stains
out of her linens. We
try to claim her first in our
hearts when we are alone
staring at a ceiling fan on a
hot night with no AC,
plagued by mosquitoes
and a mysterious itch.

We want to claim her first
before Scottish, Irish, German,
Anglo, or Cherokee Indian.

Are we too just as foreign
to this land and just as despicable
as this vine that binds us to her?

It's a hard thing to acknowledge
that this place now is what is,
and is all that it is.
It will never change, it will
never go quietly from our hearts
and leave us in peace in this
'better' place in which we have
found each other,
to be neighbors yet again.

Yet here we are, voluntary refugees
from home in a better place
with culture.

Where you don't have to say grace
before dinner,
or go to Church on Sunday.

But for all this, we still
share the mark of our lesser race
in the freckles and moles that
are upon our face.

We come from a shamed,
Un-visible place.
And we will never call it by its name…

not even once.