M.I.S.S.I.S.S.I.P.P.I

Swinging Low,

beneath the antique spanish moss

of bitter nostalgia,

beneath decades and centuries of blood-letting,

it hangs like ghosts --

pale, with a uniquely death-like life--

breathtaking in its beauty.

From the gallows of knotted oaks, willows, elms

nostalgia tastes like salt and iron:

Nourishing, Enlightening, Bloody in your mouth.

Like Forgiveness, Bitterness

Anger and Relief.

It feels like labored breaths under Georgia heat

and Mississippi humidity

and Louisiana summer storms

Oppressive with the promise of better days

Endless promising

sucked from praying fingertips

and craned neck bones, fragile little things

Endless hoping

bestowed piecemeal, and with hesitation

Freedom! It is upon us! 

***

A few years ago my family planned a macabre road trip from New Orleans to Mississippi, visiting restored slave plantations along the way. Most notable was Evergreen Plantation in Edgard, Louisiana, with it's epic and antique oak trees laced generously with spanish moss. It was beautiful -- honorably preserved but stripped of the blood and sweat that made it so impressive. We were offered a sepia-toned southern comfort slaves of the time would never be able to appreciate. I wrote about this trip for Autostraddle.com back when it was fresh in my memory, but found myself recalling it after Charlottesville more abstractly, and yet more vividly. This is the result.

Hannah Hodson