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Virginia Pars

ISSUE:  Summer 2013

At first among certain shadows
you felt forbidden to ask whose they were.

So little to inherit: family tree, tarnished pride.
A patrician lilt to certain vowels.

Real money lost, tale crocheted
in Brockenborough doilies.

Still sad alcoholic ghosts came stalking.
Unsolved, always thinking white or colored,

they slunk by, rank as shame.
Haunted by remains

somehow you were and were not
the Confederate soldiers in your grandmother’s nook.

You came
in ripped jeans from California and tasted

their seed, their curd, their underworld of 80 proof
or no proof, a difficult nut, cracked but rotten.

Known unknowns, unknown knowns
lost / not lost like the tobacco barns

on the road South, mud-daubed life
that crawled under your skin

to inhabit ensnare become partway your own.
Ghost snippets, Daddy listening

as Scotch glasses clinked, Granddaddy
killing possums with Lewis the colored man—

You felt: This / Not this. Self / Other.
You still wanted for them to explain

their America, their prodigal
half-remembered, always present pain.

Impossible to ask. Don’t speak of race.
The record’s scratched. I don’t recall. I never knew.

Anyone who’d tell you’s dead.
And: No one would tell you.


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