WINTER 2013 (Issue 77)

Alexandra Teague

Asphodel Plantation

At one, I learned I had been born into
the haunted South. How else to explain

that inconsolable night I cried at nothing
my parents could see: the four-poster bed’s

mahogany whorls holding up a canopy
of dark, or the doorknob’s imperceptible

turning. Something wanted to come in
from the thin dirt roads that led nowhere

that the living needed go—moonless fields
where Spanish moss draped all the trees

like tatters of the sky’s old elegance, the air
thickened with a churn of voices that were

not voices even when they were; bird calls
of slaves and the will-o-wisps of bodies

skirting death. What could I have known
of this, or anything? And still I cried so

hard my parents pushed at last the armoire
to the door to ward off something—

worrying then they’d locked something in
instead. Was it their own unspoken fears

I wailed for? The long night road the book
neglected to describe; the peeling paper

in the dining room; the crab claws
floating in the soup? Later, they would

describe these first: the way they rose,
or seemed to still be rising, from the broth,

and how the waiters, shadows on the walls,
looked on, their eyes still filigree, their eyes

empty as the spoons my parents held.