My grandma whispered
To me with a dying breath,
Smelling of cornpone and Tennessee whiskey,
Her lips stained by pot liquor and teeth that shone
Beyond millenniums of merit; stocks and bonds,
"They'll pick you clean through 'til spit dries
And blood becomes bone."
I listened to her
Beyond self-worth and loves lost
Farther than my slave name born in the south,
To the bend of the Chattahoochee's briny ceiling
To sinister slave ships, determined black men sinking
I listened as her words blew pass bent backs,
with faces toward Earth's cotton wonder
beyond the horse's hooves and master's pressed slacks
remember flesh is temp
and God's kingdom is home.
Because down here,
"they'll pick you clean through ‘til spit dries and blood becomes bone."