Son of a Klansman’s Daughter

Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley

          Dear Uncle,

          I heard you couldn’t bear

          witness to a black woman

          climbing the ladder

          of opportunity that was

          one of your twenty-six peach trees,

          so you cut

          every last one of them fuckers

          down with a chainsaw

          — blade right at the base.

          Dusted ‘em all

          — ten minutes flat, ha!


          I thought about equivalences

          for hate: maybe seeds,

          old trees, or an unyielding

          stump — the roots

          of a nurtured sprout,

          how strong the need

          for water — a steady source,

          how strong the need

          for a kindness

          of sun.


          you are fragile,

          a decanter’s mouth dripped

          into — decades of gardeners

          passing until you became

          a man, full

          of a kind of seed,

          of a kind of watering,

          of a kind of fruit.

          I want to ask,

          if you ever loved

          that razed orchard —

          but of course

          we haven’t spoken

          since I was just a sprout,

          raised and watered beneath

          orchard branches, then-

          budding with peach fuzz —

          here, I see myself — again,

          again I press

          a different tine, another kind

          of blade. Deep

          into my body, I search

          right at the base, I root

          for a different kind

          of seed,

          of tree,

          of fruit —

          my mouth longing

          for the flavor

          of fresh water.


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