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.