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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cherry Grove



All around the old place,
the dead visit. The
day he opened up the trunk
of that sweetgum tree,
and before we saw the
horseshoe hanging inside,
something brushed against
my face. I heard a nickering


far away 


and the smell 
oiled leather and candlewax.

A few days later Lloyd
found an anvil half
buried in an oak tree, back
by the old barn. It was 


ten feet up  

and the color of storm clouds
when the air smells like metal
and electricity breaks it 


right in two. 

They say
a shipwright lived
there once. I know.
I've heard him hammering.
That was before the rumor 
of the slave revolt 


across the road. 

Nineteen men killed, 
tortured, all for the sake 
of a child's tale. 

A child named 

Obey. No excuses.

The crape myrtle we cleared
 from the back forty 
bled claret-colored sap, 
and stuck inside
one old, stubborn knot
was a skeleton key. 
The silver lying 

all around,

tarnished forks and bone-
china plates. Daddy said
she burnt that house a’purpose,
took  the train and 


left town. 

Nobody
Ever saw her again.
But to be frank, I don't
believe it. 
I saw her walking 

in the fog

one morning, early. Picking 
bones, rearranging bricks,
breaking twigs over and over.


She saw me too.


We've been talking
back and forth, she and I,
between the branches.

*photos and post by Elodie Pritchartt

2 comments:

  1. Incredibly haunting photo. I can smell it, feel the still air that will be sticky when the fog lifts.

    I'm writing historic fiction for National Novel Writing Month, with the main setting in Natchez. My dad was a kid there in the 1930s at No. 3 Rumble Street, just off S. Canal. I'm putting a strong focus on a home for unwed mothers. I'm aware that King's Daughters Home was there for unwed mothers, but did that include Black women? I'm very curious to know about the plight/fate/standing of unwed, pregnant black women in 1930s/40s Natchez. Can you recommend a reference or source for me to research?

    Much thanks, Jodie Jackson Jr

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jodie, thank you for your comment. I have no idea whether Kings Daughter's Home was integrated, although my best guess is that it was not.

    Interestingly, my family owned Kings Daughter's home for awhile a few years ago and donated it to the Historic Natchez Foundation, which is the entity that could best answer your question.

    Contact Mimi Miller at the Historic Natchez Foundation. She knows more about the history of this town than anyone I know. Her email address is MimiMiller@Natchez.org or by phone at 601-442-2500.

    I'd love to hear about what you discover. Good luck on your book.

    ReplyDelete

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