the GENDER issue / POETRY

the ballad of recy taylor*

by Saida Agostini

Photo: Recy Taylor

Abbeville, Alabama

act just like you do with your husband or I'll cut your damn throat

                                                                         -Herbert Lovett

to be an american is to love

roads that tried to kill
me, dust, the desperate

beat of fannie’s
stout white fists against that green

chevy, a murder
of white men packed inside, their
pale hands a lesson on patriotism and

allegiance. to be an american
is to love god, to love how
we can call out his name

maybe a thousand times in one

endless bloody breaking night, to glory

in the silence of an answer
that never comes.

I am an american
because i call a thing
a thing: love
is my child, home
is wherever my daddy
goes:   frantic    searching
for my body
and what those seven
white men did
in all those godless hours was rape me
laugh train steel at my heart

my god, if I waited
for you, maybe I’d be dead
in that lonesome forest, my bare

breasts holding a grove
of pecan trees, the taste
of my blood lingering
in its fruit, a shamed
footnote in another black man’s

sorrow. you let me keep

my tongue, I’ll use it to set

this road afire

*​Recy Taylor was a Black woman kidnapped and gang raped by seven white men on September 3, 1944. She pressed charges, aided by Rosa Parks, and eventually brought her assailants to trial.

 

Saida Agostini is a queer afro-guyanese poet and activist. Her work is featured in Origins, the Black Ladies Brunch Collective's anthology, Not Without Our Laughter, the Baltimore Sun, pluck!, The Little Patuxent Review, and other publications. She has received support for her poetry from Cave Canem, the Blue Mountain Center and other institutions. 

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Auburn Avenue is an Atlanta-based, 

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the intellectual and creative voices 

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