February Poem


Every year for one summer week we fled city concrete,

our skinned and scarred bony legs climbing steel bus steps.

Our mother shaking her head at the zoomorphic use

of a racing dog she believed was grossly falsified, sighing:

Why they would put a fast dog on this slow-ass bus is beyond me!

The driver collecting tickets always shook his head back,

not for the misleading hound, but the long night ahead —

a sundown that commenced crying fights, the lap feast

of cold fried chicken and bread slices, head balancing acts

of sleep upright. All to get down home, a foothill

in the blue ridge mountains where we stepped off

into a morning and the arms of our grandmother

who’d say: My you’ve grown. How was the ride? Who’d boast

she rode the mule-pulled tractor to the schoolhouse in snow.

— Crystal Simone Smith

(From the book All the Songs We Sing, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective published by the Blair/Carolina Wren Press.)

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