Where Something Has Been

By Danielle DeTiberus

 
These branches bear stories that cannot be
erased                                         Because mosquitoes
 
made a blood meal of the pale folks who
disappeared during                                            And
 
the language still sounded like
Because every woman
 
in the family was                              And still kept
 
singing songs of             Because somewhere
down the line my people stole
 
someone else’s people              I’ll never
know who                               or where but                      
 
I know                                               Feel it flush through me
like a hot pepper                               Watered face
 
and heat    Because      I’m a damned
Yankee and thought it was
 
a Southern problem                                  Charleston
Port of                                                                     Only city left
 
standing after                   Bowl of okra and black-
eyed peas from                               Brick laid iron
 
forged cobblestones set by
Because the blossoming                             whorl
 
of magnolias and time absolve
and a plantation of its
 
Because even a tree knows
what to do with rot                     Builds a ring

 
between it and                                    So that
what threatens harm might                   might be