a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
thumb, never breaking his skin worn with time,
many knives. He slit the backs of shrimp, pulled
out the veins, tossed them into a clean bucket.
The sun sparked off the dull knife,
morning giving way to Mississippi noon.
The same sun burned the backs
of shrimpers on their boats,
glinted sediment into sand.
Beside him, my grandmother popped
off shrimp heads, ignored begging cats.
Her knobbed fingers, the skin stretched
tight over knuckles, loose at nails, would
hover over frying oil, test the heat.
The same sun flashes now on a gulf
slicked with greed and dead zone:
the small crustacean,
the small shrimp boat’s wings,
the small town’s supper.
Alive instead, the rigs.
See that oil sheen?
That’s our flag now.
That burning smoke, our pledge;
that weeping, our anthem.
Katherine Anderson Howell writes and parents in Washington, DC. She was born in Mississippi and has lived in many other places. She is a multigenre writer, and is the editor of Fandom as Classroom Practice: A Teaching Guide, from the University of Iowa Press. Her essays can be found in places as varied as Women in Higher Education and The Rumpus, and her poems have found homes in Gargoyle, Sweet Tree Review, and Stillwater Review, among others. She is an independent scholar and activist.