How we came to tell the stories we call truth—as told by the Wind to Loblolly woman.
Heat-season ran long. Still. Heavy this year. Holding down even Wind. Until one day. Loblolly woman cries. Down by the bend of the creek where the minnows grow big enough to eat and the log used to cross is rotting. Leaves fall heavy as golden rain. In their cascade lilts Wind’s familiar voice. Because Wind can go anywhere, She knows and howls,
All over the sky is blue for the same gases and particles, but none is the blues of home.
You’ll remember summer’s lesson by the sight
of Spotted Touch-Me-Not also called as
Kicking Colt, Jewell Weed, lining the path
to the creek where the people of the Minnows live.
People of medicine.
It is called spotted because each flower hangs
like an open opulent orange mouth,
tangerine tongue draping over its lips.
The whole of it painted with red spots.
Leaves appear silver or jeweled when held underwater.
When seed pods are mature the lightest touch causes them to expel their seeds.
Dehiscence—the splitting or bursting open of a pod or wound.
Sometimes the lightest touch is love.
Sometimes it must be split open.
Within the Loblollys there is always sadness.
As She caves in the barn roof, Wind blusters,
I watch your loss. This, the wound of the Loblollys.
One generation to the next. Someone must pay for what the ones before take.
I can tell you the birth of your sadness
up to night’s radiant rafters
and let gods
of the Sweet Gum
and Women of the Melon
and Creek Waters and Her Minnows
and Fish Wood
and Sea Beneath the Earth and
quiver with need
to writhe in shadows. Recall
time of field and sheep. Laughter.
Pitchforks raised in joy in sustenance not labor.
Evening’s dancers don masks of Red Wolf and Fox. Not masks at all.
Not hunted at all. Land bleeding into our clothes.
Pokeberry. Walnut husks. Dandelions—
for whimsy, for tea, for tincture, for nine shades of yellow: root to ray floret.
Remember medicine resides inside
open palms. Touch pulls the pain.
Your people stole this
from your people.
Tied your mother’s father’s father’s father’s fingers to spinning wheels.
Tethered the women indoors until they forgot they can leave.
Remember the shadow sheen.
Disinter Spirit from your own indurate bones.
Your people learned to plant rather than grow. This requires harvest, leaves cutover. You must see all the cutover creates— a horizon opened like arms to god ready for the blessings of the rising sun.
Sunrise like rainbows on their way. Be awed by the way dew and the cold winter nights
spit diamonds across the cutover. Be in awe of this. Beware of what this has given you.
Rush. Collect the dead. Walk out among the graveyard of everything. Killed because it dared to keep alive. Drop to your knees. Do not flinch. As the crusted stalks of grass slice through your thin skin. Sit among the death you are responsible for because you are born into it.
Ask how to make it better and I will tell you
I don’t believe you
You only want to feel better
Make it better, live better
Your privilege is your strength, therefore your duty
Use it to make safety
For coyotes to come out in the day
Loblolly your forest is small and very tight
only the ones on the perimeter can see out but mostly they are looking back in
You have the privilege of view
You must look
I am of none of you but known by all of you. I am within all of you. All people are our people.
Angie Dribben’s debut collection, Everygirl, a finalist for the 2020 Dogfish Head Prize, is out with Main Street Rag in May 2021. She is Contributing Review Editor at Cider Press Review. Her poetry, essays, mixed media, and reviews can be found or are forthcoming in Cave Wall, EcoTheo, Deep South, San Pedro River Review, Crab Creek Review, Crack the Spine, fatal flaw, up the staircase quarterly, patchwork lit, and others. Her poetry is selected for anthologies: Aunt Flo, I Wanna Be Loved By You (Marilyn Monroe Poems), and Texas Review Press’ Virginia anthology.