a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
This time, momma promised me cotton. She promised me that we will pull over in Possum Grape to pick a bit of cotton from the fields. There’s lots of cotton fields on the way to grandma’s but every time we drive there three hours it’s always rainin’. “Once we get there,” Momma says, “we gotta hurry ‘cause if we’re caught pickin’ cotton, we could get into a lot of trouble.” It starts to rain. I cry ‘cause I really want to touch the cotton. I want to take it and show grandma. I want to pick it out of what my momma calls a cotton boll. Momma says “yer cotton-pickin’ dad” sometimes. If daddy picks cotton, I want to, too. I ask her if you can eat it like white cotton candy. She says something about indigestible fibers. “But it’s so white and soft!” “No, just listen to me, it will hurt you, ya hear me?” “Ok, I won’t eat it” I start thinkin’ about somthin’ else Anywhere between Little Rock and Piggott people always stare. Maybe it’s because momma is white with long blonde hair and she has a black baby. Do they think I’m not her baby? Everyone at school always asks me how I have a white momma and a black daddy. I touch momma’s hair I want to touch cotton, want to see if it feels like my t-shirt. Even though it’s raining, we get out of the car. At the edge of the field, there is already dirt on my white shoes, but I don’t care. Momma doesn’t seem to either. I reach for the cotton. Momma points out the boll, tells me it turns from green to black when the cotton is ready to be picked— all these bolls have already turned pure black. My fingers hurt from the spiky bolls. We pick what remains on one cotton plant. Pulling the cotton away, I notice the cotton has some black stuff in it, but we place it into the jar anyway. The cotton is soggy. A little blood from my finger gets into the jar and then we close the lid tight.
Kendalyn Mckisick is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and works as the poetry editor for Permafrost Magazine. She was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas where she received a BA in English and a BA in sculpture. She is interested in hybrid genres in creative writing, vegan food, dogs, and long distance running. Her work can be found in Panoply Zine, Permafrost Magazine, #Bossliving and is also forthcoming in Alchemy Magazine.