Where Something Has Been

by Danielle DeTiberus

These branches bear stories that cannot be
erased                                         Because mosquitoes
made a blood meal of the pale folks who
disappeared during                                            And
the language still sounded like
Because every woman
in the family was                              And still kept
singing songs of             Because somewhere
down the line my people stole
someone else’s people              I’ll never
know who                               or where but                      
I know                                               Feel it flush through me
like a hot pepper                               Watered face
and heat    Because      I’m a damned
Yankee and thought it was
a Southern problem                                  Charleston
Port of                                                                     Only city left
standing after                   Bowl of okra and black-
eyed peas from                               Brick laid iron
forged cobblestones set by
Because the blossoming                             whorl
of magnolias and time absolve
and a plantation of its
Because even a tree knows
what to do with rot                     Builds a ring

between it and                                    So that
what threatens harm might                   might be