in the south where the dead cover everything
there are trees that are stained with sex.
old oaks, ashen with the backs of black girls
pinned down by long arms colored with
the dirt of this earth.
i am in a hotel room wondering why
my mother left me and things
seem insignificant, like they are the things
we are not supposed to feel sorry for –
she said we are all carrying something.
in the south where the air is sweat and peaches
there are men who lust for fatherhood
and women who do no wrong. a willow
sags with grandma’s breasts and says
i am sorry and we do not know why.
a man takes off his shirt in another room
but i do not see. he presses his belly
against the cool glass while i wait for
my father’s car. in a dream he tells me
how he met my mother.
in the south where stories float through old cotton
there are seeds who listen underground.
black boys take the names of their slave
fathers, and there exists a world where
no one is who they say they are.
i leave my jeans unbuttoned and wonder
who will do the rest. i want to fall asleep
with my clothes on and wake up naked.
i want to birth a child and let him run
away in his father’s car.
in the south where trees bend down to drink
there are rivers that run full with sperm.
i have heard stories of children with river
fathers and sweet love made on
in a dream my father never comes.
in a dream my father crashes his car
and walks on water. in a dream we
take the names of those
who did us wrong.
Devin Kelly is an MFA student at Sarah Lawrence College, though he was born south of the Mason Dixon. He was a member of the 2014 Sirenland Writer’s Conference, hosted by One Story. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Catch & Release, Dunes Review, and Cleaver Magazine. He teaches Creative Writing and English classes to 7th graders and high schoolers in Queens, and currently lives in Harlem.