from Descent

Can I be your lazy eye, your wander-
lust, your grave without a headstone,
your bleeding gums, your buck teeth
and your walk bowlegged at the knee? Can
I be your fortune hunter, your glimpse
of wild geese, your red russet shoes
that poison the feet? Reckon this is the best
of my seed. Been stripping cane and blind
robbing the bees. Reckon you’ve thought
of swimming the creek. Last night they came
on horseback, white hoods like phantoms
scanning the trees, burning torches, shattering
sleep. I dragged the shotgun from the door
and stepped squinting onto the porch.

Copyright © 2018 by Lauren Russell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem
 “Descent is a book-length project that began when I acquired a copy of the diary of my great-great-grandfather, Robert Wallace ('Bob') Hubert. Hubert was a captain in Hood’s Texas Brigade in the Civil War. After the war, he returned to East Texas and fathered children by three of his former slaves, black women who have been silenced by history. As I transcribed the 225-page diary, I became interested in its omissions and determined to write into the space of what is missing. Descent is at once an investigation, a reclamation, and an insistence on making history as a creative act.”
—Lauren Russell