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Under my skin

I grew up in the Southern madness

That avoids every unpleasantness and flaw

And clamors for our comfortable blending in

To the perfection they insist is their birthright.

I never thought of this as my real home

Like a silk robe with a raw inner seam

That never leaves your sensitive skin alone

And cannot be the comfort you hope for.

The Spanish moss looks inviting

But hides a threat I cannot see

As I play barefoot in the side yard

My playmate tells me it shouldn't be touched.

I wore it around my shoulders like a stole

Triumphantly defiant of her warning

Only later did the chiggers' pox

Render its scratching revelation around my neck.

The itching is beyond words

Or my little-girl mind's ability to fathom

That graceful tendrils from oaks along our drive

Could shelter such clawed harbingers of pain.

And so it is with Southern subterfuge

Which would rather repeat the lies

Than atone for the truths of what has been

Done in the name of Southern tradition.

Denials for so many horror-ridden choices

Exposed during centuries spent ruining others

Disguised as tales of exceptional gentility

Whose stubborn artifice crafts Confederate fables.

Such perfect madness is never solitary

Or transparent in its fetid guile

It clings to its barren beatitude

Its claws still ready to get under your skin.

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