Theme I: Habits, “Southern Habit”

By Hannah Treasure

every time I let the word die on my tongue

it cries out again, rearing its Phoenix head

unwilling to give up the room of its mother.

my ashy throat, weak with heritage, gives in

when I say “y’all” aloud it is only because

the word has dodged my clamped mouth

and clenched teeth, habit turning my body

into an obstacle course. crawling out alive.

I beat it back down, behind picket fences

beyond piles of cacti, beneath fresh basil,

pico de gallo. squashing down the “y’all”

in silence sharper than the heel of a boot.

how lonely the lone star must be

only admired for her distance

she who doesn’t distinguish

independence from homelessness

when was it we were talking about the stars?

the other ones, the kind that kick you

with their spurs, make you gaze obediently

and open-mouthed in submission

“if y’all only knew,”

the amount of times i’ve surrendered

my awestruck jaw to the sky above

and fallen back into the drawl

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