Not My Ancestors
By Bettina Judd
I, heiress of red embers
the fiercest of which burn the uncareful hand
See my one great grandmother what
had the misfortune of disciplining her husband
who thought he could come upside her
head about something or other.
Without missing a beat, she, damn physics,
wield a cast iron pot against his head.
This same short, blunt arm would nurse
twelve children, the youngest only two years
before her own death. She willed nothing
but her blood. Stout bodied women
with heavy wants and hands, hearts overripe
and prone to leaking. Mama on my grandmother’s side
held a shotgun aimed to the head of any white man
come up the road. Papa would greet him with one of his own
just as unfriendly and kind under her sharp shooting eye.
I’ve never held a loaded gun, too afraid I might
turn it on myself. They had Jesus and a wood
burning stove. What do I know about protecting