A Trip She Took: My Mother's Southern Ghazals, excerpts
During March-May 1943, my mother, Florence Gerald, toured
several southern states as a union organizer.
It will come back,
come down the street on one leg & a wooden peg.
Nearing Jacksonville the soil is drier,
grassy fields with a
The fields already plowed, dead brown leaves
thick and shining in the sun.
A white woman will wait on a Negro man in a dept. store.
I bleed occasionally.
The evening sun in our eyes as we walk back.
I love you. You are the true friend of my heart.
And through it all feeling as goofy as he.
Neat. Clean. Dialectical.
But the flux is a real flu--is it psychic or physical?
Pull your shoulder blades together
& await the return of picket lines.
He writes down notes that bear upon the case.
The trunkful of documents.
The terraced garden--the tall pine woods beyond;
he seemed brilliant and "right" to his balanced wife.
Porkface cusses the waiter,
grabs bread from Greyhair's plate.
On a ramshackle porch in Georgia, a gaunt woman in a red robe
combing out her beautiful long hair.
Can't, can't, can't, can't.
Like hammerblows. Each incapacity equally important.
Miss Vaughn loves humanity:
When they passed away I decided to move to the hotel.
Very few human beings are handsome, one finds this out
on trams and buses.
And from the moment I hit town--dear God--the same blue funk.
She moved easily, red skirt, pink blouse, shining white earrings.
He gave her a dollar.
In the gargoyle plaster hotels
30,000 soldier boys all far from home.
I have a set made every six months.
See the change in the human face.
Nature abhors a vacuum:
I was empty space in a cohesive mass.
Woke up each morning,
chest stuck full of hard fragments.
It's the end I'm unsure about. Watching pelicans
skim Miami Bay--the intense blue water--their heavy grace.
A lake, framed by great pines;
Spanish moss; the song of birds; sun.
Something happens but
don't do it.
The final resistance is Mother Earth.