by StarShield Lortie
Background photograph by Carla Ciuffo
StarShield lives in Murfreesboro where she tutors, teaches English, and writes and performs her poetry at the occasional open mic night. Learn more at www.starshieldlortie.wordpress.com.
Bless Our Hearts
the cotton fields
the poke weed
the run down row houses far away from the tree lined streets
and old empty slave quarters on plantation tours.
the southern pride
the legacy of southern hospitality
the Confederate flag
and the heritage that runs through the land
like blood in family veins.
the long history
the deeply scarring epithets
the creaking magnolia trees
and the men in masks burning wooden crosses in front yards.
the million stereotypes,
at once both living legacies
and ancient stories passed down on porches
as the summer locust songs swell and fade, swell and fade.
we leave things unsaid
because we are deathly afraid
it will all start again, or that it never really ended,
and drown out the courage in the face of so much hate.