for my parents
Why should she want to meet the young preacher waiting in the sitting room?
Paused on the landing, she fears his voice drifting up the stairwell deep and sweet as curing tobacco—pure
Arkansas sharecropper’s son,
reminder of a past her family barely survived. She trembles
like a stranger.
She thinks: You won’t change me, Snake-charmer. She pictures him
knees prayed to a shine. She imagines
his brown hand resting on a gator-skin Bible rubbed smooth
to her mother’s best china cup.
Against her better judgment she recalls that his hair is black and full
as the Mississippi.
She wonders if her hazel eyes would take on that depth
His words vibrate deep,
accompany her steps like organ music
She reaffirms her resolve:
I will not marry a soldier, a farmer, a preacher. I will not be widowed
She pauses on the last step.
Smoothes the taffeta skirt of her best dress. Her crinolines whisper.
Her small, naked hand pales against a sea of deep green—
the color he will mistake her eyes for until the day he dies.