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How Sweet this Great Land

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.

from Fantasia for the Man in BlueFind more by Tommye Blount at the library

Copyright © 2020 Tommye Blount
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Poems Tommye Blount

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