Incident

By Natasha Trethewey b. 1966 Natasha Trethewey
We tell the story every year—
how we peered from the windows, shades drawn—
though nothing really happened,
the charred grass now green again.
 
We peered from the windows, shades drawn,
at the cross trussed like a Christmas tree,
the charred grass still green. Then
we darkened our rooms, lit the hurricane lamps.
 
At the cross trussed like a Christmas tree,
a few men gathered, white as angels in their gowns.
We darkened our rooms and lit hurricane lamps,
the wicks trembling in their fonts of oil.
 
It seemed the angels had gathered, white men in their gowns.
When they were done, they left quietly. No one came.
The wicks trembled all night in their fonts of oil;
by morning the flames had all dimmed.
 
When they were done, the men left quietly. No one came.
Nothing really happened.
By morning all the flames had dimmed.
We tell the story every year.

Natasha Trethewey, “Incident” from Native Guard. Copyright © 2007 by Natasha Trethewey. Reprinted by permission of Natasha Trethewey.

Source: Native Guard (Mariner Books, 2007)

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Poet Natasha Trethewey b. 1966

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Pantoum

 Natasha  Trethewey

Biography

Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the daughter of poet, professor, and Canadian emigrant Eric Trethewey and social worker Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough. The daughter of a mixed-race marriage, Trethewey experienced her parents’ divorce when she was six. She subsequently spent time in Atlanta, Georgia, with her mother and in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her father. Encouraged to read as a child, Trethewey studied . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Pantoum

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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