Yesterday I awoke to another dead plant in a jar. It would not stop looking at me.
The ants held a funeral below. And I was immediately reminded of the soil, earth, sand that is now my grandmother. I remember how her lips changed shape when she was gone.
My uncle says that he will never work the land. He will walk into a cafe and work with his hands, pruned from water and fights bigger than himself. He will join wars, relationships and jobs. He will raise children and try to balance joy and heartbreak, but he will never work the land.
Today I spoke with my great great uncle Leon, nana’s youngest and only surviving sibling, about his relationship to the land. Uncle Leon says he has none. Yes, he knows how to grow things and live off of the earth. He remembers raising chickens and pigs on his family’s farm in Shreveport. Well, technically it’s Greenwood, but don’t nobody know Greenwood so we just say Shreveport.
His parents loved the land. His daddy grew cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, mustard and cabbage greens and tomatoes. His mama loved walking outside and looking at what they owned. The land had been passed down from them to him, before that it was sold to another family and before it was split up, was a plantation. While listening to his story, I thought about Queen Sugar. I asked him if he knew what it was and he replied, “Girl, are you listening? We ain’t grow no sugar. We had to say no to that. Too many ghosts.”
My uncle didn’t really say that part. I added it because I thought it would go well with the story and because he was tired of talking about farming and when I think of farming I always think about blood and ghosts and dead bodies. When I think of farming I always remember what my uncles and play uncles would tell me about how necessary it is that Black folk refuse to fight in wars, and America in particular. They are, were veterans. They know. I will never fight in that kind of war.
concrete be flesh cracked
wide by singing lemon trees
black body kindling
I’m not sure where this story goes because Sunday I will sit with a friend and we will talk about the magic of plants. She will talk about her garden. I will say that each time I trim a root, I imagine it bleeding. I’ll tell her that when I imagine new worlds, we live by the things that grow on and within the soil. I’ll tell her that I miss my grandma. And that I feel closest to her outside, when the earth stills enough to hear the trees and wind speaking. I’m flying. I’m less afraid of ghosts out there.
Towards more conversations like these, imagined and grounded in reality.