Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!


The South doesn't agree
with my brother.
The heat sandpapers his skin.
Don't scratch, my grandmother warns. But he does
and the skin grows raw beneath his fingers.
The pollen leaves him puffy eyed, his small breaths
come quick, have too much sound around them.
He moves slow, sickly now where once
he was strong.
And when his body isn't betraying him, Ohio does.
The memories waking him in the night, the view
from my father's shoulders, the wonder
of the Nelsonville house, the air
so easy to breathe . . .

You can keep your South, my father had said.

Now Hope stays mostly quiet
unless asked to speak, his head bent
inside the superhero comic books my grandfather
brings home on Fridays. Hope searches for himself
inside their pages. Leaves them
dog-eared by Monday morning.
The South
his mortal enemy.
The South,
his Kryptonite.

Written by Jacqueline Woodson


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge