Thursday, May 27, 2010

In Pobiddy, Georgia

Three women climb from the car

in which they have driven slowly

into the churchyard.

They come toward us, to see

what we are doing.

What we are doing

is reading the strange,

wonderful names

of the dead.

One of the women

speaks to us-

after we speak to her.

She walks with us and shows us,

with downward-thrust finger,

which of the dead where her people.

She tells us

about two brothers, and an argument,

and a gun-she points

to one of the slabs

on which there is a name,

some scripture, a handful of red

plastic flowers. We ask her

about the other brother.

"Chain gang," she says,

as you or I might say

"Des Moines," or "New Haven." And then,

"Look around all you want."

The younger woman stands back, in the stiff weeds,

like a banked fire.

The third one-

the oldest human being we have ever seen in our lives-

suddenly drops to the dirt

and begins to cry. Clearly

she is blind, and clearly

she can't rise, but they lift her, like a child,

and lead her away, across the graves, as though

as old as anything could ever be, she was, finally,

perfectly finished, perfectly heartbroken, perfectly wild.

This is the first poem that I have written in its entirety - for I know of no other way to tell the story that left me crying this morning. Mary, you surprised me. Me, a Georgia born gal who thought I had seen everything.

Are you as blind as I have been? The world invites us to look around all we want in the pull and push of Yes, No, and in the end we are here to be heartbroken. Nothing else but this, which is everything.


1 comment:

  1. If you had not printed it all, I would have thought something was not making sense. It takes every word to tell the story. I have read it probably ten times. That last line is so forceful. I can feel how 'perfectly finished' she is. Did I interpret it correctly that the three women are what remains of a black family with three generations represented? Was the elderly woman finding out for the first time what happened to her other son? Once she knew she had nothing else to live for and was ready to die? Since my book has not arrived yet, I don't know when Mary wrote it. She was very astute in writing about the problem of black on black crime that leaves black families to the women. It is still happening today. The old lady was probably blind from cataracts, which also shows how our society doesn't provide surgery that would correct it to that segment of the population.