for my NC Sampson County Manuels
Since 1830, every year on the Census
my third great grandfather disappeared in his
First Indian, then Mulatto in 1840,
in 1850, he was eventually white.
What were we?
My fourth great grandfather
could have left an easier trail to follow.
One of cornbread, drum songs, splintered
Anything to locate their breath on the ravaged
The scent of pokeweed
something to wet my finger and test the wind
of a three hundred and forty-four years’
all the way back to North Carolina and
A porous golden map of some kind:
deer bone, a horse shoe
that told us how to interpret the dreams we
dreams that scared the shit out of us
when dead people came to call, when the
unfolded like a horror movie in our dreary
We knew them, the ghosts folding air-dried
clipping wooden pins off a clothing line
walking away with a full basket of my
wet, white bones
into mist, into shadows.
We will never find him.
Shonda Buchanan – Who’s Afraid of Black Indians? – http://amzn.com/B009LC6U6G
More about the author: Poet, memoirist, and fiction writer Shonda Buchanan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Hampton University teaching creative writing, composition, essay writing, editing, and research. Author of Who’s Afraid of Black Indians?, which was nominated for the Literary of Virginia Literary Contest and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards, and editor of Voices from Leimert Park, Shonda is an award-winning poet whose expertise includes Narrative Nonfiction, Contemporary American, African American, American Indian and Women’s Literature, and Comparative Literature, as well as canonical texts. She freelanced for the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle, and Indian Country Today. She commentated for Marketplace Radio, and was featured on National Public Radio’s Tell Me More. A culture and literary arts ambassador, her presentations, workshops and lectures demonstrate her passion for exploring gender, ethnicity, family, heritage, landscape, environment and ancestry. For more information, visit: www.shondabuchanan.com, or Poets & Writers.