Deep South

Across the great divide…


They kept them hidden till I stepped inside

      One for a birthday card,

Puzzled at first by what was there

      And what was not. And what was there to hide?


Huge glossy frozen packs of pig’s feet, tripe,

      Hog maws and chitterlings

And no promotions down the aisles

      I recognised. The vegetables were ripe,


Yams, okra, sweet potatoes, peppers red

      In every size and shape

To brighten up the place beside

      The scrawny hot food bar whose contents read


Gizzards, neck bones, chitlins and catfish fried…

      Fruit wines, grape wine, black Muscat blush…

I stooped and gulped, forced to a stop

      By history across a great divide.


Uncomfortable, alive to a mistake,

      I tried to show respect

For different habits and cuisine,

      No matter how white was the frosted cake


And how blush-red my white embarrassed face,

      But found the clerk and clutched

The card with colours so diverse

      And, hoping, held it as a kind of grace.