the museum of americana

a literary review

Two Poems by Danielle Jones

 

 

Agape  

It’s 1991, January, an overcast day. I have nowhere to be, but I get in my father’s Cadillac, cruise the main road of town—only road in, or out. It’s Martin Luther King Day everywhere else, but here, in Alabama, it’s Robert E. Lee Day, and they’ve placed confederate flags every square foot of the median dividing this five-mile stretch of road. I look at the red-bricked buildings, the white church house on the corner, the cemetery with my favorite magnolia tree. That is to say, I look away. 1994, 1996, 2000. I say this will be the year I do something. 2003, 2006, my Honda stuttering down the main road, bumper-to-bumper traffic, the sun reflecting off the glass façade of our biggest building, blinding me, blinding the other drivers. We move forward, inch-by-inch—past the red-bricked buildings, the white church, the grey graves leaning, the new ones standing straight. 2008, and the road seems endless, traffic relentless, hundreds of flags growing in the grass, blood-mouths screaming—but I don’t stop the car, don’t stop traveling the road that was paved for me. Don’t pluck a single poisonous vine from soil. Listen: I was the threat. My silence was violence. Year after year, I let them strangle everything good that wanted to grow. I plucked myself from soil. I left my roots.

 

 

*

 

 

Preserved 

Praise the mason jar, praise 
its hip and swell, its smooth  
glass, stout curve, its clear, 
its fat bottom fierce. Praise 
all it catches and keeps.  
Praise its wide mouth, its  
tight lid, plated steel: praise  
the dimple that shows it’s sealed.  
Praise the ring: replaceable 
when the metal wears thin. 
Praise the pop! Praise the 
thick walls, the putting up. 
Praise the practical, durable,  
the downhome, the cornpone.  
Praise the Perfect, the Weck,  
praise the Ball, the Golden 
Harvest. Praise all the sizes  
and shapes. Praise every day, 
every way, it doesn’t break. 
Praise the aqua, the amber,  
the shades of green. Praise  
the berries, peaches, tart- 
picked cherries. Praise  
the holy string bean. Praise  
the chutneys, the relish, 
the jams and jellies. Praise 
the pickled things we carry.  
Praise the sun-grown tomato  
in the growl of winter.  
Praise a bite of bright, a dob  
of fresh. Praise the jars  
and jars of everything left. 
 

 

~~~

Danielle Jones holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Best New Poets, Memorious, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and a St. Botolph’s Emerging Artist Award.