By C.Z. Heyward
My pecan brown mother raised me to fear only one thing
It wasn’t hard for me to understand this
hopscotching the needles and junkies painted along the sidewalks
like they belonged there and I was all wrong.
She sent me to my grandmother’s farm during the summer so I’d know what was right
As the curtain rose
on many a cerulean night
along the Bohicket River
the reverberations of crickets’ altos
beckoned a response from the bass
of the bullfrogs under our porch.
They were the old deacons giving their guttural approval for the release of my dreams.
The sound of the chorus ricocheted off
the pitch of night
bringing the stars closer.
James Brown was right
Black is Beautiful.
By morning I’d set free the frogs I’d caught
and placed in Mason jars.
They were replaced by
And fiddler crabs.
It didn’t come easy ’cause I got
And pissed on.
“Boy what you learn from all that chasin’?”
my grandmother Evelina would ask.
With bowed head I’d question her question with
“You heard me boy.”
“Dreams don’t come easy,” I told her, “sometimes it hurts chasing them. Sometimes they die.”
“Come ya’. Have something to drink before you catch monkey next,” she’d chuckle. Her honey toned skin beaming.
As I sipped her too sweet red Kool Aid out of my Scooby Doo jelly jar
thinking about what I was gonna chase next.
Raccoons from grandma’s garden.
Hogs in my uncle’s pen.
It was my world to conquer
my choice to make
because pecans and honey
made it so.
C.Z. Heyward is a native of Harlem, New York, who cherishes his summers spent on the coastal isles of Charleston, South Carolina. His work has appeared in a variety of print and online journals. He has also presented his work at the Nuyorican Cafe in New York City, and the Art Links Festival in Athens, Greece.