Miscegenation

By Natasha Trethewey b. 1966 Natasha Trethewey
In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;
they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.
 
They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong—mis in Mississippi.
 
A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same
as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi.
 
Faulkner’s Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given his name
for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in Mississippi.
 
My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name.
I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi.
 
When I turned 33 my father said, It’s your Jesus year—you’re the same
age he was when he died. It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.
 
I know more than Joe Christmas did. Natasha is a Russian name—
though I’m not; it means Christmas child, even in Mississippi.

Natasha Trethewey, “Miscegenation” 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 Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Couplet, Ghazal

 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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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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