Happy February! Happy Black History Month! Happy Black Poetry Writing Month!
Did I miss any?
Oh, how could I forget? Happy Throwback Thursday!
If you missed the big announcement earlier today, Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo) is back, and this year, we’re taking a journey through the eras of black poetry/literature.
Quite fitting for a Throwback Thursday, don’t you think?
Every Thursday this month, I’ll be posting one of my poems from a previous BlaPoWriMo challenge that fits with the theme for the week. This week’s theme is slavery. So today, I’m taking you back only a year, to when peaches were in season, and love blossomed, even when tied down by whip and chain…
When Peaches Were in Season
Years later, and I still remember
your ginger hair, red like the sky
before dusk, after the sun has
set behind the cotton fields,
and we’re back in the quarters,
you lying in hay, my face in the
roots of your crown, smelling the
spiced peaches you prepared for
the Missus. One night you snuck
a jar under the folds of your skirt,
and we hid in the balcony above
the chicken coup, slurping the
slimy sweet fruit between cinnamon
crusted fingers, dripping maple
syrup between wood planks into the
den of orange and brown feathers.
It was the only time you ever kissed
me, leaving behind the sticky,
sugary stain between my nose and
upper lip. I never wiped it off.
Not even when Ol’ Whalen tore my
back raw for loving his wench. Not
when he sent me to the driver to
break me. Not when Mama Celia
delivered your baby lighter than
you. No, not even when they sold
you to the rice plantation in South
Caroline, and I watched you dragged
behind the cart in chains, still
swollen from your recent labor, and
when you turned around one last time
to call goodbye, your crying eyes
leaking streaks of blood. But I still
remember your syrupy lips, fastened to
my rough, wiry beard two seconds shorter
than I wanted it to last, the caramelized
peaches squeezed between your teeth,
your copper hair flipped over your
face, a veil to hide your deepest thoughts,
until I parted the spirally locks
and met your stuffed cheeked grin,
oozing cinnamon and maple peach juice
from the corners of your mouth.
Originally published February 14, 2017 for BlaPoWriMo, 2017 — a fortnight of “black” love poetry