issue 32 poetry

Alabama Queen

by McLeod Logue

An oil painting on wood depicting a smiling mushroom with a green cap with vertical black markings. The background is sienna.
Mushroom 1 by Donald Patten

Alabama Queen

The red earth was God’s way of knowing who was good enough
to be dirty. In the backyard, I play house underground, letting
my fingernails make pockets in the earth. It feels good
to be cold down to the bone. It’s bible belt territory. Red
as the fire ants. Red as the blood in my mouth. I want to be
part of it all, to swallow as much good country as I can.

Bury me in my stomping boots, the ones that click like cue balls
on the pavement. Mama hated the way they leave
scuff marks on the front porch, says I can’t be playing
with fire. She knows what I am. Daddy called me worm bones,
all lanky and rotting. He gave the name to pollen leaves when they curled
between the spaces we shouldn’t take up. I wanted everything
I touched to know my name. To know I was here first.

The grass comes up easy, let’s me stack mounds together, shallow
graves left behind. It makes the land look lived in. I belong
here, closer to the thing that can’t speak back. I carry
the spirit of the south balled in my hands, caked in the folds
of my dress. I want the mudpies, the parting, the wet
sound of moving to make me mean something else.

My knees are raw with gravel coiled in my skin, like teeth.
I carry it with me through the porch, the back doors catching
the wind like a jar. My footsteps are loud on the hardwood,
soft on the carpet, silent under the sheets of my bed. When I go,
bury me here, in the only place that knows who I am.

McLeod Logue is an MFA candidate and poet at UNC Wilmington. Her work has appeared in The Nashville Review, The Shore Poetry, and elsewhere. 

Donald Patten is an artist from Belfast, Maine. He is currently a senior in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Maine. As an artist, he produces oil paintings and graphic novels. His art have been exhibited in galleries and sold in art markets across the Mid-Coast region of Maine.