Poem: Queen of the River’s Bend

She was plucking blue flowers for a plantation’s yield
When the Owner rode up and decided to steal
Such a beautiful Maiden in his “own goddamn fields,” 
With skin dark as onyx and eyes cold as steel.

He made her his mistress and called it a day. 
Locked up in that house she was - told not to stray. 
But bathed in perfume and draped on rich satin, 
The Girl simply thought: “Worse things could have happened.”

‘Course the Owner’s Wife didn’t like this one bit, 
So she schemed and she plotted (threw a few hissy fits), 
For the house had been hers — built by her father. 
(Disgraced by her husband’s poor sense of honor.)
Yet she had two small children, one more on the way! 
“Help out in the house,” she said. “Then ya can stay.”

Such is the tale of a Girl now long lost,
Who was taken to Hades by the lust of her Boss. 
By day she’d chase children in spotless white cotton -
And what happened at night is best left forgotten.

For as the Maiden succumbed to the will of “her man,”
His Wife conspired her own wicked plan:
Banish that Girl, who had captured his heart,
Send her back to the fields; tear them apart.

Now when word reached the Girl what the Madame was plottin’,
She swore: “I ain’t plucking no more flowers or cotton!” 
So she listened in close, as she passed room by room,
With her ear to the door, completely consumed.

Of course it wasn’t long before she got caught,
Again and again — but she just couldn’t stop!
The Owner felt that his hands were tied,
So all of Bayou Sara heard that poor Maiden’s cry.

Oh dear, my dear, Persephone,
Queen of the River’s Bend -
They cut off your ear; you took your revenge. 
And now your lost soul can never transcend.

She covered the scar with a dark green tignon;
Told to leave well alone, she responded, “Mais non!”
She’d been sent to the kitchen,
Left to die in the heat;
And there came her decision,
Forged by defeat.

The Maiden turned to her Mother, full of grace,
Cried out for an answer,
“Please, save me from this place!”
The Goddess responded with one simple flower -
Frail to the eye, yet bursting with power.

Milky white tears she mixed into that batter,
Said a prayer for their souls, as if that would matter.
An oleander cake was served promptly at the bell,
Then those earth-kissed hearts were sent swiftly onto hell.

“Three ears of grain in silence reaped,”
The sentence that she faced,
Said each and every other slave in discussion of the case.
“Death!” they cried, “Death forevermore!”
And so they hung the Maiden from a tree
Just to settle up the score.

It was then the Maiden seized her crown,
As majestic Queen of the Dark,
And as they sunk her body down,
The River released her Spark.

She might have traveled far away,
But she was still a buried seed.
And for blood guilt she was forced to pay -
With each little morsel equating a day -
For her wicked and sinful deed.

Now she haunts old Laurel Grove,
And the Bayou that’s behind it.
Her whistle’s heard upon the wind,
And through the house she roams.

You’ll know her by that green tignon,
Two children at her feet.
She welcomes all the dead by day;
Scares tourists in their sleep.

For there once was a Maiden,
As beautiful as night,
Now she rules over judgement
Beneath the Southern twilight.

-Amber JoAnn