The Land We Lived On

My Happy Place, Makeda Wells

We lived on a patch of infertile land, 

                         a place where they tried to convince us berries grew in the summer.

Nothing ever bloomed except our cigarette trees, growing rich in winter.

The smoke was stagnant and held its flight all January. 

Daddy blamed us for his barren farmland and blamed Mama for our smoking habits.

His wrath was taken out on butterflies, slapping them down with the back of his shovel.

He tore at the ground for foods he never planted, cursing the devil with every unfilled hole.

                         To make Daddy happy, we stole potatoes from the grocer and covered them in soil, 

                    hoping maybe he would see God in his mashed potatoes that night.

About the Author

Claire Tafoya · Chapman University

Claire Tafoya is a recent graduate from Chapman University with a BFA in Creative Writing. Her writing often contemplates faith and family. Besides writing, Claire can be found reading, listening to excessive amounts of Taylor Swift, and spending time with her loved ones. “Not for the Week” and “The Land We Lived On” were both previously published in Calliope.

About the Artist

Makeda Wells · Xavier University

Makeda Wells, of St. Louis, Missouri, is a student at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. This piece first appeared in New Voices. 

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