The white girl is arrested
by joy—or is it hunger?
Whatever is there bubbling
in her perfect little body,
she has been taught
to subdue it. Crossed,
her arms make an X
like a contract’s signature; her wrists
rest against her skirt’s pleats.
Almost as if I were a lecherous savage
and not the coheir of this
moment, my nose brushes
the photograph—what must her hands
smell like? Not an odd question
when I consider the dangers
of hunger. Ah yes, there it is—the scent
too loud for even history to shush:
sweet relish, sharp chives, crush of dill—
sandwiched under her nails; a sandwich
some Black child’s mother made. How sweet
this great land of nostalgia—
when there were fewer
houses than there were trees;
safe. She looks as if she might hum;
so happy to be in the cool shade
of the man swinging from his branch.
Copyright © 2020 Tommye Blount
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.