Blood Bath Baby by Amy Wright

        It didn’t take many years to realize I was a Southerner, a slow, dumb, 
        redneck hick, a hayseed, inbred and racist, come from poverty, 
        condemned to poverty: descendent of Oglethorpe’s debtor prisons.  
                                               --Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

Cracker children are allowed to be
  children, in their high chairs—spoons
    overhead like torches in the Puritan forest,
     misfits, woodwose, Jezebels yawping
      for MORE! beet mush
       even as it covers their feedbag,
        forehead, soles of their keyring-size
          Little do they know
            messy cleronomy
             will soon splotch
              their lily-white faces,                                                            
             blueberry-wine stain
            the altarcloth of their four-
           chambered chalice of joy
         and sorrow. As soon as they start
        their periods, take Communion, park
       in the cul-de-sac on Lover’s Lane,
      it will all be over—whatever
     kept them from becoming
   yellow dogs and bigots, no-
  counts, leaches fattened 
on the government’s tick hound. 
Regional typecasts
  skinny-dipping the same gene pool
   with snapping turtles, tongues twisted
    around their eye teeth
     so they can’t see
      what they’re saying.                                              
       Grandfather’s grandfather’s
        great-uncle was a bastard
         unmentioned in the county annals.                     
          Great-aunt Mary Margaret shot
           her husband on the toilet
            with her lady pistol.
            So many land-poor cousins
             or crazy, were locked up,
             put away or shut themselves in
            some squatters’ cabin.
           Crackers take refuge in ethical precepts
          of non-attachment that distance them
         from that complicated heritage, forget
       where they put the family Bible
      detailing patrimony customs                     
     for drawing off one’s sandal 
    only to throw it in the river
   of true riches, make fried pies
  from apples that did not fall
 far from the tree.
But that crime scene
 moment in the kitchen,
  brilliant with vermilion—
   they are citizens of no country
    but babyhood, not yet Redskins or Cowboys,
     Giants or Patriots, fans of no team
       but a planet that produces pearlescent
         onions with snow peas, cherry tomatoes
           and non-chlorine bleach.

About Amy Wright