Every night Mammie’s brown lips kiss my pale cheeks,
after a long day in my Grandmother’s kitchen,
and she tells me the story of the swamp monster.
How they crouch on our door steps,
dank like a bowl of warm piss, just waiting
for trouble to come before sunrise.
After the hurricane hit,
pine coffins were left in town square
filled with sun-bled white bodies.
Pale sacks, once-human, hung
their bowed heads over the wood as
bare-backed black men carried
closed caskets to the church,
god-ridded questions on their shaking hands.
Black bodies bob in dark waters,
bloated with mosquito bites.
The humidity, a coffin
molasses-thick and the horizon brews
flames from an open pit.
Tonight the sacks burn bodies.
Grandmother and sat quietly,
pushing blackened cornbread crumbles
round our plates. I press my fingers tight
against my eyes like Mammie’s brown-lipped kiss,
and my tears bubble
as cooked skin does.
I asked her:
Why didn’t everyone get a casket?