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autumn/winter 2018

Melody for Virginia

by Ariana Benson

After Maya Angelou’s “A Georgia Song”


We inhale the briny air of the Atlantic Coast

Crab legs broiled to surrender

Gentle midnight intricacies of

Constellations in the vast beyond

Scent of conflagrant embers.

In mapled forests,

The far off symphony of

Explosions, fireworks and gunshots

With the distilled echoes of

Mo(u)rning hymns,

Shuffles, cries and

Mahogany canoes wearily parting

The swamplands of Virginia.


Recount to me your stories, Roanoke.    


Frost creeps up Dare’s cabin walls and blunt

Knives carve their inevitable



Forget not our tales, Jamestown.

Oh, the pristine white cotton

Dampened only by ancestors’

Blood, and Hannah

Scribing her memoirs to


We pine, hazily for autumn sunsets

And an auburn sun,

And the hum of gentle fireflies.


Cry me a river, Elizabeth.


We need a flood to arise

Striking, as the power of truth

Uncovered can change one’s destiny.

And lacking  distinct

Humanity, no eyes extending

Comfort, nor hand

Outstretched, disjointed from

A black corpse.


Find us nascent hope, Chesapeake.


A radiant drowning sun, a

Harvest dusk, slow pulse,

Languid, induced only

By a reflex, we crave                            



O Richmond, O wealthy, and

tortured land,


Croon to us a virgin melody

Of Coastal serenity. 

spanish moss
Photo: Chuck Huru

Ariana Benson is a writer from Chesapeake, Virginia. She is currently an undergraduate student at Spelman College, studying Psychology and Creative Writing. For the past two years, her work has been named a Finalist for the Edith A Hambie Poetry Prize. 

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