Poem of the Week: “Miscegenation,” by Natasha Trethewey

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Center for Poetry intern Elizabeth Sauter says this about her choice this week:

“I chose this poem by Natasha Trethewey in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day on January 21.  Majoring in political science due to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird has led me to have a renewed passion for advocating for better racial equality in American society.  As we reflect on what Reverend King achieved this week, may we also reflect on how to better our country for all Americans.”

 

Miscegenation

~ Natasha Trethewey

 

In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;

they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.

 

They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name

begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong—mis in Mississippi.

 

A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same

as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi.

 

Faulkner’s Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given his name

for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in Mississippi.

 

My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name.

I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi.

 

When I turned 33 my father said, It’s your Jesus year—you’re the same

age he was when he died. It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.

 

Natasha Trethewey, “Miscegenation” from Native Guard. Copyright © 2007 by Natasha Trethewey.

Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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