[38] Death Mask of One Lynched, donnarkevic

circa 1927
plaster and walnut stain

Althea cradles it in the hands
Boyd once held as they danced
beneath a harvest moon,
the taste of honeysuckle
tea, its sweet earthy tones
of fresh tilled earth,
the thirteen-year cicadas,
whirring through August
like sickles on a grind wheel,
and the fateful whistle
of a freight train
crossing the oak trestle
where Althea and her daddy
lifted Boyd up, dead weight,
the rope taut, tearing her skin
from fingers, her ring
shucked, falling into black
swift river water moving
like the pickup truck
filled with a white mob
no one will ever trace.

The white plaster mask
rests on the kitchen table
as Althea stirs a pot
of walnut hulls
boiling in water.

When the liquid cools,
she daubs her finger
in the tincture
and stains the mask,
Boyd appearing fine
as the night they met
by kerosene light
in a church-
his boyish smile
still a mystery.

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