Not the fleeting bruises she'd cover with makeup, a dark patch as if imprint of a scope she'd pressed her eye too close to, looking for a way out , nor the quiver in the voice she'd steady, leaning into a pot of bones on the stove, Not the teeth she wore in place of her own, or the official document-- its seal and smeared signature-- fading already, the edges wearing. Not the tiny marker with its dates, her name, abstract as history. Only the landscape of her body--splintered clavicle, pierced temporal-- her thin bones settling a bit each day, the way all things do.
In the dream, I am with the Fugitive Poets. We've gathered for a photograph. Behind us, the skyline of Atlanta hidden by a photographer's backdrop-- a lush pasture, green, full of soft-eyed cows lowing a chant that sounds like no, no. Yes, I say to the glass of bourbon I am offered. We're lining up now -- Robert Penn Warren, his voice just audible above the drone of bulldozers, telling us where to stand. Say "race," the photographer croons. I'm in blackface again when the flash freezes us. My father's white, I tell them, and rural. You don't hate the South? they ask. You don't hate it?