Blackout by Micayla Latson
 

Deep in Georgia

by Autumn Hill


1.

Deep in Georgia’s heart, off to the left

In the season of the bare dogwood

Feeble and blessed,

I, aged six or seven had stood

Heavy enough to hear

The creaks in the floorboards

That guffed their scalded scent.

On Sundays the church bell rang

Leaden and hefty, drawing the crowd

Into the haven, across from the cotton field.

My grandmother held open the books of hymns.

I sat into her, underlining the thread of gospels

Between the bands of the piano’s written word.

Her eyes closed, voice croaky but softened-- 

harmony like a crowd of Alaga. They sang

so deep like the musk of tobacco, its haze seizing

my breath, mumbling underneath their roars.

They praised till the walls peeled like a blade to bark.

Stomping till they wore the bleeding carpet

Open. Dancing till they weren’t here no more 

2.


In the cloak of night they come for the church. 

The wood collapses into heaps of hot ash

white capes like picket fences ignited

their rugged crosses, high in the sky, a message sent 

crackling and churning with sin. 

The Lord’s passages roar through the fire, flames take seat

in the pews, clutching hymns, melting praise into its bodies.

Afar, brown eyes glow, with no tears to extinguish anything. 

Again, a building rises,

again, our songs sung,

squalls curling against the walls, shaking the deal doors.

Sun rays casting aglow the pulpit through empty windows.

Sisters and brother rise, slamming calloused hands

against the pew. 

Shaking and convulsing,

chorus of wails

purer than the light

cleansing like fire. 

High as the days where the sun swelters our skin

sweat the sweet scent of ash.

3. 

The piano dwindles in its wailing lament. 

The now somber steps of keys dousing these familiar folk,

whose wrinkles I revere, more so, as they exhale a blackened breath.

Grandma, whose arms I am tucked under once again

slightly tremble with ache, creaking bones, scorched under flesh still.

Like a pillow of Sunday best, my head onto rests,

till the cooling moon waxes, summoning benediction.