Song of the South (I Am and Am Not)

15078567_10155146149822971_8765461081427573026_n.jpgI am a song of the south, I am
I am Georgia.

You can call me G.R.I.T.
And I will not sneer, for grit is in my blood,
and on my plate.

I am made up of these parts:

Let’s start with the leaves,
always the leaves, the maple, the oak, the
cologne of the pine, the delicate pink-white of the dogwood,
the crunching the crackle the whisper of burning leaves
(my Papa burned leaves in a huge metal can
the smell will stay with me the rest of my life)

I am a song of the south, I am
I am Georgia.
I the peach, juicy and heavy with nectar,
I am roasted parched peanuts at the flea market some morning,
heady with dew, a light fall breeze
Vidalias sweeter than apples,
Co-cola in a glass bottle, crusted with ice
I am humidity
I am rock, honey, wood, bone.

(Let us not forget the buried dead, the mountains and the creeks that house their bones; they were here before)

I am a Song of the South.
I am Georgia.
The clay of our earth so orange, it permeates, it stains
It rusts, our history
You can never wash it off, it is you, it us all of us.

I am the mountains, the sea, the cobblestone street,
I am Sunday School with butter cookies and divinity,
and soft-haired ladies with softer voices.

but softness does not disguise the pain, the violence,
lest we not forget, that war was fought and lost and we were on the wrong side, the wrong wrong wrong side

152 years is not so terribly long, but is incredibly long
to still be lost

I am a Song of the South, I am.
I am Georgia.
Here is what I am not:

I am not your flag.
I am not bars, or stars, or X’s or O’s –
I am not afraid of where angels tread.

To admit privilege does not wound me,
it frees me.
I am not married to the past.
I do not value history over pain.
I am not your hoods, your crosses,
your monuments of losses.
I am not just one color, one creed, one twang.
I do not seek to raise the dead,
and bend them to my will.
I am not a torch.

I am not a gun.

I am a butterfly, orange against the dusk.
I am the mountain tree, bending to the sun.
I am the firefly, lighting against the dark.
I am the peach, giving way to sweet.

I am the song of the south, I am.

You want to know that song
(but bless your heart)
You have forgotten the words
and cannot sing.

14222305_10154952562487971_4693823446784938105_nCopyright 2017 Lillah Lawson
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