poems from MEND

Kwoya Fagin Maples


Mt. Meigs, AL, Present Day

in mt. meigs, fields of ugly cotton plants persist,
their bolls colded over and forever done, afflicting the stalks
like boils, a mutated offspring of their ancestors—

which were so carefully
tended, every year new seeds sewn, the land then rife with surety
and always turned with the best

dung which yielded a most white and beautiful—
cotton flower

blossoming now are the ones who refuse to die,
this kind never die,
they must live and suffer




Mt. Meigs, AL Present Day

my unique questions are referred to mary catherine, reference
queen of the mt.meigs library

as she enters, mary catherine smiles her knowledge about the dr. yes, she knows—
per usual, she’s arrived right on time

she tucks her wet umbrella into a corner and the rain she’s brought inside
runs down the all-weather wings of it, pools onto the library floor

hardly breathing she leads me to a book on the history of mt. meigs:
He’s famous because he operated on an African-American woman and saved her life!




She’s the cool squish-bird in plastic
wrap. Today she wears her own hair,
a mush brown

helmet wig. But there is something pure
about her, something as demure-soft

as her shoes. I imagine
her feet wrapped in that leather, tender buffed sheep—

bare feet—
how the heel and ball roll, lay, get

up again—leisurely, as if they were made
for a chaise,

I imagine her feet so soft in my hands,
I could bone squeeze them crushed.