Bones of Wrought Iron

Suppose I could tumble into the Charleston harbor

and waves could weave my hair into roses,

float me in dark until I forgot the jagged

fault lines underneath. Suppose a sandspur’s

hooked in my foot and the skin on my heel

is Charleston and my eyes hurt from reading

the newspaper from that paper mill furling over the bridge.

Suppose my mother took my hand and dragged

me all over Charleston, where people don’t play music

on the streets, the music is bottled

and comes out of vending machines like Coke.

Maybe my hair is salted full of sandgnats.

Maybe I bled on a cannon aimed at the sea.

Suppose the black children in Market Street paintings

were nailed to their joggling boards. Suppose the bridesmaids

in plantation weddings wore dresses of red clay

and devoured cake with stained teeth. My mother smiles

when she directs strangers to the slave market,

when she explains those bright colored houses,

how they’d send slaves to the pink, the purple, the green.

I hate to talk about these things.

If the cobblestones cracked, teeth would bubble

over the streets, and they’d be pink, purple,

green, and sharper than steeples.

Suppose my mother had palms like pine bark

that stung when she clapped,

that her skin melted and broke like praline.

Suppose we were braided together into a sweetgrass basket

and saw the sun in slits and someone lit a match.

I need to talk about these things.

I need to smell horse shit behind carriages

in the street and I need to tell people about Charleston

because my bones are wrought iron

fences, they hold me up like iron earthquake

rods between Charleston houses.

When the ground shivers like skin

brushing off a fly.


Dorsey Craft is an MFA candidate in her third year at McNeese State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barn Owl Review, Cactus Heart, Cider Press Review, and the minnesota review.