Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sweet Potato Baby

Anytime one of my favorite writers writes something new, I notice.  Here is a new poem from my wife Annette.  I am pleased to bring this to the notice of those who may not know or have forgotten that she is the writer in the family.


It resembled a baked sweet potato
this premature infant girl
born to an Alabama debutante
who fell hard for crack cocaine.
The father a black man
no one even knows who.

The child with a multitude of special needs
will be raised by her maternal grandmother.
The maternal grandfather lies buried
in the South Alabama black-belt dirt
on the miles of acreage he owned
and owned also the money
and the government
and the people
for many years paying black workers
with tokens to his general store.

When the sweet potato baby’s mother was a child
this man, the landowner-baron,
hired black children to play with her
and pull her around in a bright red wagon.
And whenever a truly outlandish thing happened
this man would slap his thighs and exclaim:
“Well I’ll be a nigger baby!”

In the dark arts, words are known to have power.
An incantation, rightly spoken,
can Poof! call into being the very thing it names.
Will the sweet potato baby resemble the grandfather?
Have his narrow eyes?  His hard jaw?
This old fool, inheritor of a decayed plantation,
might have been more cautious in his pronouncement.
might have thought
how words conjure.

            --Annette Cotter


Cheyenne Palisades said...

Great poem!

ardy said...

Just beautiful....
I do indeed remember that Annette
was a writer early on....I fell in love with the songs she wrote and played with her guitar...


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