Spring 2003 • Vol. XXV No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 2003 |

Miscegenation

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.

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