Cover for Southern Exposure's Southern Black Utterances Today cover featuring a woodcut print of a Black man's face gazing upward, by Atlanta artist Lucious Hightower

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 3 No. 1, "Southern Black Utterances Today." Find more from that issue here.


reddening day —

my blue old grandfather lowers himself

into the river

and bathes.

His bones are brittle,

and they crack when he bends.


Rushing from northern valleys,

the river slows,

mindful of this recurrent rite.


My blue old grandfather

is a humble man.

He understands the river's loneliness.


Single moments after

the river resumes its journey,

releasing the cleanness of pine tar, a soap.

And the vapors of union, cooling,


as a fog.