April 24, 2014
“There is a cotton field in Sardis, Alabama—”

There is a cotton field in Sardis, Alabama—

a stretch of mud & white

spread like the best patchwork—

before the church where Great Gran Matilda

was buried. After the service,

my kin walked aisles of puff & profit,

ushered samples back to bluegrass,

turned tufts between our fingers

to test the pain man made. I lost

that piece of cotton, raw resource

from the birth of my name, something

I can’t get back unless I drive the miles,

see the South of my youth in a second

pilgrimage. When my days are done,

my words no longer barter, take me

there. Open the urn, spread my ashes

over evil’s low fruit, let the burn stain

the ankle-high clouds, remind anyone

brave enough to walk the rows

how low a back must bend

to fill a sack

of sorrow.


-Mitchell L. H. Douglas

Mitchell L.H. Douglas

Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Mitchell L. H. Douglas, Associate Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a Cave Canem fellow, and Poetry Editor for PLUCK!: the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. His second poetry collection blak al-fə bet, winner of the 2011 Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor’s Choice Award, is available from Persea Books. His debut collection, Cooling Board: A Long-Playing Poem, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work-Poetry category and a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!

Posted In: Poetry

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