Miss Polly Is Akimbo Underneath the Mother Emanuel Collection Table inspired by: Daniel Beltrá, Oil Spill #12, 2010. From the Spill series. Gulf of Mexico

Miss Polly Is Akimbo Underneath the
Mother Emanuel Collection Table


The one who came to start the next Civil War
speaks to her directly. “Have I shot you yet?”
There is no one else left to answer. In the church
basement all are dead or bleeding out. Miss Polly,
half on her knees, is askew, tilted, her last angle,

akimbo to the eight others who are sprawled and
already spiraling toward heaven. In her mind she
too is about to die. There is no place to hide when
you are the last one facing the waving gun. The air
has been invaded by a poison mix of bright red ore

spewing from his mouth. There was a spilling.
There is about to be another. He cannot see the
seeping septic colors but she can and there is no
isthmus wide enough, beneath her shield of a table,
to keep her from the current of his non-stop debris.

A floating band of iron orange tincture crooks her
pounding heart but does not push her downstream.
She waits sideways, as high up as she can, refusing
to look at him. She knows how evil can enter through
the iris if beheld too long. She will not be all black

and blue unsure of what has been released in the
room. A river of flaming copper is moving slowly
through her blood. She is an honest woman and
has seen with her own two honest woman eyes,
what hate erupting inside a man can do and what

this one has done. She decides her last words on
this earth will not be camouflaged and khaki,
handed over just before he runs out the same way
he walked in. When he shot the Pastor first she
could have faked it, fallen over sideways, held her

self perfectly still, asked her body to lie for her but
that would not have been the life she has lived. It
will not be the death she dies at his feet. She turns
into the last one standing and her molten answer
arrives, the color of pounded beets, beaten out of

their safe skins, her persimmon words outline every beloved
bullet riddled body still lying on the floor. “No, you have not.”





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