DE LA OF JUSTICE: JOURNEY, HISTORY, ACCEPTANCE


"de la" is pronounced "delay" as in Byron de la Beckwith 

I. Journey 

Thirty years roll toward me, and I meet them 
Ill-equipped with a grey porous sponge, 
Grappling to absorb floods- 
Blood-inundated Delta, my home. 

Shedding middle-class privilege, 
I've been forced to return, to settle up accounts 
-Way past due. Here to do for homeboys 
Chores and cleaning I don't even do 

For myself, desperately wishing 
I possessed the means for hiring out 
This messy task: reconciling what I remember 
Of home-warbling rockers set in motion by mother's 

Love with a face masked by violence. 
A job of this magnitude seems better suited 
For corpulent matriarchs, resilient 
Women with stoic constitutions. 

Not like me, overly sentimental, 
With tendencies toward lachrymose fits. 

II. History 

These homeboys, my homeboys, 
Evers and de la Beckwith-siblings by birth, 
Offspring of Aunt and Uncle, Decatur and Greenwood 
-Tussled to gain Mississippi's favor. 

Eleventh of June 1963, de la wagered 
Perdition, losing but parlaying 
White privilege-a powerful card 
-To capture the largest stake of pecan pie. 

No, not pee-can, a chamberpot, 
Into which a body can piss seeking relief, 
But pecan, sugary pie made dark: 
The midnight snatching of a na‹ve Northern boy. 

Pads of my fingers, emotional tips, 
Scrub the encrusted crystallizations of pots 
Sullied with sacrifice: these voodoo ingredients 
Could not de la the hex of Beckwith-a Golden Hawk 

Hidden beneath sweet gum trees and 
Bushes overgrown with honeysuckle. 

III. Acceptance 

Now, Medgar, everything's okay, 
Okay as it can be. Mississippi 
Managed to save a peace after all. 
Go on, take, pieces of pecan pie 

For the cherubim, Emmet, who never 
Grew to be a man. Don't forget, visit 
The seraph, Mose, highest of angels. 
Tell him things been made right. 

Go directly up Highway 49 without 
Fear of quaint, Christian picnic bonfires. 
Go ahead, rest yourselves. I'll lay claim 
To dirty dishes for all of us tonight- 

Nascent overripeness of humanity 
-This, my shanty home, Mississippi.