For the Superstitious

When my mother once let slip that
I was conceived in New Orleans,
I put two bothersome
events together.

A recurring childhood dream:
Dark in here.
mildew-reek of cotton sacks
the field hands left behind
soggy quicksand of cotton seed
winter dirt floor seep
ears throb, silence,
every move sends me deeper down
heartache increasest
I awaken, wheezing and red.

New Orleans, 1954:
My pretty aunts and my pretty mom
go prancing ahead down Canal Street,
shopping for pretty things
Grannie, who knows about Beauty,
sets me down to trudge along
in Sunday shoes,
heavy-lidded and dreamy.

I lean into the nearest body:
voluminous shade
salty-smelling skirt
powerful flesh
We walk together like a dance.

A hand comes down to touch my hair.
When I reach for it, it is brown
as the coffee milk I drank for breakfast.

I look up into golden eyes.

"You tired, Baby?"

Such a deep, drawling purr.

Wordlessly snatched up again,
I feel my knees swing
into Grannie's strong soft bulk.

I look back over her shoulder to smile
at the stranger behind us. She makes
a kissing noise. Gold hoops sparkle
as her chins wiggle. She chuckles,
low and profound.

"I'm 'on eat you with a spoon!"

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Copyright © 2002 by Linda Moyers Stewart
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