My Brown Daughter

Dad Holds Flannery 2
My Brown Daughter

Even before the adoption
we shared the same
last name. Call it Fate,

the gods, or pure color
blind chance—
I like to think it means

something. In the first
photo of me
and her, I cradle this

infant like a holy visitant
from across
what lines and tracks

I already know, already
sense will
compel second looks

in Home Depot, questions
and answers,
approval, or not, love

of skin, hair, and eyes
my whiteness
makes foreign, till

I am drowned in the beauty
of brown, swept
up and away cross sweet

Jordans by a chariot
that swung
low for me and her,

coming with a band
of angels
to carry us home.

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Cracker

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Cracker

A Cracker is as a Cracker does. The son of a country mailman the son of a failed farmer the son of a lost clod who died from yellow fever and disappeared, not even a note to note the place they stuck his grave in the ground. And the Cracker’s mama? Orphaned by a stroke of bad luck and alcohol, the daughter of sharecroppers the daughter of cotton the daughter of cornmeal, dirt, and squirrels for dinner. Sleeping with a gun between her legs. Cause better a gun than a father or brother’s dank, bowed cock. And Cracker is as Cracker does in Southwest Georgia. SoWeGa. Soo WEEEEE GA! A man can call some hogs with that. To the slop, to the trough, to the blow-down, bow, crook, cup, and twist of a barn. Can you even imagine the barn? Or the mud? Imagine. And the corn scooped from the feedsack makes a beautiful yellow arc in the air, gleams—and it does—every day in the thunder-building air, before it pellets the same hoof-trodden ground. But hogs will root it out. Cause a hog is a hog is a hog and a hog does as a hog is. And a Cracker’s son in the ’70s drives his daddy’s blue F-100 at the speed of sound. Down dirt roads and paved roads and ditches and cross the wooden bridges. And Freebird IS his speed and sound. With a Salem Light between his fingers and a beer can between his legs, he tugs his Dekalb hat into place—such winged Mercury of seed—and punches stations into the radio’s face, singing he’ll be leaving here tomorrow, girl, cause he’s got too many places to go and so much more to know. Swearing he don’t need nobody to remember him or his name, thank you just the same. That, or he’ll be good and damned.