Whew! The first poem of the new year is out of the way.
A note about this very new piece. It's a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Also, the first person to entry your house on January should be male. What can I say--it's a tradition.
Simmers and spits in a pot on the stove.
January 1 and black-eyed peas seasoned
with hambone, onions, salt, and pepper
calls all souls to the table. My mother
slaves in the kitchen. On this day,
when being black does not reflect
the absence of something,
some traditions taste too good to forget.
Contained in Tupperware,
my father takes some
through his best friend’s doorway—
the first male to enter. Then they’ll return
to our house and grace our door. This is sure to bring
good fortune, cold beer, a lawd have mercy
followed by a laughter that starts
in the soul and works it way out,
a laughter that echos in the heart
from something intangible and starved,
until the only thing left to do is fix yourself a bowl.
Plate me up some of those peas
with grits and collards greens, says dad.
He leads us in prayer: Thank you for this fortunate meal.
Spoken by the god of new beginnings.