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