Suzan Phillips : 2010 Poetry

Suzan Phillips
Southern Legitimacy Statement
Ma-Ma would take Bo and me digging for sassafras roots in the woods next door. She would boil the roots and then we would drink the hot “tea” ’cause Aint Essie said it would keep ya reglar.”She stopped a horse from bleedin’, ya know? Tom Waters brought his horse over, pourin’ blood outa his neck. Aint Essie went ’round the back of the house and when she come back, that horse ‘ad stopped bleedin’.”
We dug potatoes, too. She had on her lipstick and floral print dress. As soon as we came out of the garden, she put her heels back on – black patent leather – and put the potatoes on to boil. “We havin’ old timey pataters and lemon marengue pie.” She watched wrestling while she ironed the sheets.
Then she took me over to Aint Correll’s. We were going to get my wart taken off. I was five. We drove round a dirt driveway up to a little house and an old man came out. Flowers everywhere and trees and a bench swing hanging on a rusty old swing set. They talked a minute and then he gently asked me to go sit with him on the swing. He held a leaf in his hand, twirling it round between his finger and thumb. “Suzan, this hyere’s a peach leaf. Come off ‘at peach tree righttare.” Silence. “D’you b’lieve I can take off that wort from your hand, thare?” “Yessir” “Well, hold out chur hand and lemme just rub this leaf hyere on yer wort, like this. See. Now, when you wake up tomorra, yur wort’s gonna be gone. D’you b’lieve me, Suzan?” “Yessir.”
My wort was gone the next day.
I think my southern legitimacy is evident!