Call Me Bitter

by Emily Blair

but I didn’t grow up in a single-wide trailer
that we traded in for a double-wide,
my sister and me so proud of our separate, slam-able doors,
didn’t wear boy’s play clothes handed down
through four different cousins, didn’t have dinner
of fried cabbage and onion from the garden
and cornbread, pinto beans and cornbread,
just cornbread, didn’t watch
my grandfather wonder if the Agent Orange
he woke up covering his pack in Vietnam
meant anything, didn’t hear
his screaming night terrors—

I didn’t watch my daddy’s spine
light up like the Fourth of July on the scan
and a man in a too-big lab coat
cough and say It’s been fractured and healing
for years and years
and stand in awe of a life of labor
without thought of complaint

for you to call yourself
because of some way-back kin
while you sit in your beautiful home
far away, surrounded by all the things
money buys

Emily Blair is a queer Appalachian poet and community college professor currently living in North Carolina. Her work has recently been published or is forthcoming in Heavy Feather Review, Rogue Agent Journal, Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art, Riggwelter Press, The New Southern Fugitives, and others.

Artwork by: Laura Stanley