Lindsay Parnell: Poetry : June 2020


Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and raised in Virginia, UK for a bit for school and writing and nannying and waitressing and bartending whilst lying to folks about wine, then back to Virginia without notice, before Philadelphia, and then Atlanta, which is now the place I pray and vote and re-read Dorothy Allison and Ann Beattie and Larry Brown and Tayari Jones. And so the South is the place I am called back to, where the people I love live and catch layovers and are buried. No one said the roaches got wings though.

On Visiting Andalusia with my Father (or, On Writer’s Block)

He said we should go to Andalusia before it gets too hot.
After a twelve-hour shift he drives us
along the single-lane stretches of 441 that fork like a serpent’s tongue.
Peches + P-nuts for sale.
The sun brands me in seasonal freckles, the flushing of limbs.
The mosquito welts are fat and white at my elbows and behind my knees.
But this aint my body no more, it’s Georgia’s,
where the Governor says
motherhood is mandatory
come January.

He drove not knowing the stacking of barren days,
the dulling of nerves in my fingertips and
sleep paralysis. The tinge of tinnitus,
a mind that no longer thinks in sentences.
When choking, I forgot to lift my hands.

The peacocks are caged but Saints have no need for crutches.
A crucifix nailed aside her bed,
The Sewanee Review and dull pencils on her desk.
The record player and hymnals, gifts from local nuns
and sweetheart frames of her folks on the mantel.
Out back ticks suck blood and fatten until they die, happy how
the Lord willed it to be.
In Milledgeville, my palms will raise in worship.

He who does not speak of his cracked tooth, but whose wince I catch
during french fries and steak sandwiches and pints of Sweetwater,
he whose face is no longer his, but my brother’s, too.
And I pray that knowing is my inheritance.
Had I known what he did,
I would not have raged against the silence,
had I known that in Milledgeville, the faucet would turn back on.