When Asked About My People I Say

by EMILY NASON

My grandmother kept Polaroids of a 1949 lynching tucked under her mattress, sent them to me in an envelope when I asked a black boy to prom. No return address, but I knew. This is the South that birthed me. This is the South that made me numb to violation. I know to eat enough to put meat on my bones, to hold my whiskey poorly, to close my legs to men who misuse y’all, to be funny because my hair ain’t high, so I’m no closer to God than you. When did I realize that my accent made me kudzu-trash, that someone placed a hex on my blood when I was still in the cradle? So I grew crooked, spine-first, bent over like I was hammering white wooden crosses alongside the highway. I pass them when I drive south from Ohio. I count them. I wonder how many of them I knew.

EMILY NASON is from Columbia, South Carolina, and is a senior at Kenyon College. Her poetry has also appeared in the Kenyon Review and the Georgia Review.