southern summers grow skin bronzed by bass drums and a seemingly despot sun. my first ten summers are worship and harvest. one rising, i see my father in a penitentiary that stands on stolen soil. i want a soda, he wants me to stay in school, stay a good, sweet girl. he coming home soon.
one hundred suns pass, in the summer i am paid a dollar and change per gallon of blueberries i pick. one hundred suns again and i hold sweet, indigo fingers up to an orange moon. my dreams are an endless garden. i swallow peas, snapped and severed – like me from my roots. three thousand suns, i am placed north to bloom in solitude. i will learn to communicate in consumerism. to make money out of gardens and leaves and loneliness.
this education’s price tag is $300,000 plus plump purple chunks of my flesh.
Look as this beautiful, diverse garden. We have yanked each rare beauty from its home far away.
my accent don’t sound so southern no more. supposed to be concerned with the changing climate, but my dreams are only sun and my skin glistens in sweat.
granny’s voice cracks when she calls. when you coming home baby? i am burrowed in darkness to be reborn. fingers stained ink indigo, daddy’s prison letter is scratched on paper like he already faded into the massive metal mouth that consumed him before we met. he can’t spell my name. i remind him of Genesis. when you coming home again? i am staying in school.
debts partially paid. tears slide down a page, purple puddles pull me to quench a sun thirsty throat and remind me of gardens. i head for an Ivy League; i am not bitter yet. two hundred suns and a white man asks me “how can we get more black men to come to our white school?” i hold the answer inside: make it home – sunlight and rainfall, where we all are waiting to return.
This poem was the runner-up in the poetry category of our 11th annual Writing in the Margins contest, judged by jaye simpson. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) for this year’s contest.