In Hurt, Virgina

Rochelle Hurt

I was born a fleck of milltrash
bedded in a black hill, a cry
stoppered with crabgrass.

I was born a stick in the stuck-mud drift
of land called Virginia.

I was born among a clutter of cats

and tongues sloughing a crust of coalspit
from their coal-bit teeth.

I was born an apology.

I was born with a gift for gall and grift,
late to a woman with hands

as slick as her knickers.

I was born a breadcrumb in a trail

of fathers leading out of our clapboard house.

I was born a tawdry dress

my sister wore for prayers and hollers
until it was torn from her hips

and a kernel of a baby shook loose,

my sister’s skin wrapped around his like a noose.

You’ll never tell home from hurt

my daddy said. His mouth

was a curse placed on my mother’s forehead.