Guedry & Stafford

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Contest Finalist

Half Blood / Dual Coasts

Rhienna Renèe Guedry & Chris Stafford

After 30 years  and  a  thick  Appalachian divide
you     wrote    swiftly    back,     mesh    memory
enough   to    set     right    our    inherited    mis-
remembrances.   Cajun stock and all that damn
hair:  we  looked more alike than our full-blood
siblings.   It   only   took  a   patriarch   dying   to
excavate  one another:   a  slip  off  a stepladder
picking  pecans,   or  did   I  make  that  part  up,
too?  The  fiction  I  stitched meant I was always

Girls   grown,    thick    with   flight.    Brother,   I
heard   you   went  to  Italy  and  to  college  and
thought,  well  I  just  might! The world building
started  in  clay,  we both  took turns bailing out
flood    water,     pouring    gin    and   a   cement
foundation  off  the  same  blueprint  thousands
of miles apart.  The  ground knew it could  float
us  for  a  while,  ‘til  we made it to the riverbed,
our sea legs safe and sound.

Oregon   is   evergreen   and   we   live   in  year-
round   sweater   weather;    ain’t  my  southern
bones  relieved   to  finally   know  the  cold.   A
toast  to  new  chapters.  I hated high school,  all
that  first-born  pressure,  first-gen  expectation
I  set  for  myself  ‘cause  nobody  else  would. If
our  dad  ever  dreamed  I  doubt  I  was  one  of
them,  but  I  keep  on  keeping  on  like  my  life
depends  on  it.   This  old  house,  ghosts  in  the
walls:  despite  all  the  blood  and  the  mud  I’ll
keep  sending  letters,  too.  You  came  first  but
it felt good to discover you.

My   daughters    have    a   father   and   your
father  has  a  daughter  I  know  this much is
true  that when we hit some  troubled  water
there’s  a  bridge,   then  there’s  a  let   down,
and  a   road  to   let   my   crown  down,   the
potholed   drop   from   Jones  Creek  Road  to
downtown.    But    I    always    know   you’re
waiting  over  on  President  Street,  southern
songs  and  bare  feet:  you  and  I,  sister,  we
just might get along for the long haul.

Not   just   some   90’s   kid,  this,   my   ode  to
Choctaw   Ridge   and   The   Viper   Room:    a
flannel  living  (a  tunnel,  too)   I’ll  write  our
names  in  family trees that gave  us  skinned
knees   and    decades    worth   of    gin.    I’ve
known  rivers,    I  knew  River  Phoenix,  too.
“What’s  your  name,   little  girl,”   did  I  ever
tell  you  that  Skynyrd  were  once on a flight
from  Greenville  to  Baton   Rouge?    Us,  too.

Grass  grows  from  roots  in  new  ground, so
we’ll  get  lost  and  we’ll  get  found, and after
all,  high  school poems ain’t never helped me
much,  anyway.  What  time is  it  in Portland?
Maybe I’ll   come   back  here  to   stay,    your
lowercase  letters,  my  suitcase sweaters. Our
dad   swears  Bob  Dylan  is  his  favorite,  and
Bob  Dylan  swears his ain’t Elvis,  but I know
that’s not true, and I   know  this:  you   know
me, no me, you know, you  stare, youth stairs
so  climb up to see my house from  there.  It’s
just you and me & I and love and you.

Rhienna Renèe Guedry (she/they) is a writer, artist, DJ, and tarot deck creator who found her way to the Pacific Northwest, perhaps solely to get use of her vintage outerwear collection. Her work can be found in Empty Mirror, Oyster River Pages, HAD, Bitch Magazine, Screen Door, and elsewhere on the internet. Rhienna holds a MS in Writing/Publishing from Portland State University.

Chris Stafford (he/him) is a writer, artist, and musician who has been a public high school art teacher for almost two decades. Working in education has continually increased his love for teaching, especially the joy of helping students find and express their voices. He has driven the entire Southern United States from coast to coast, tried to teach drum lessons, and has had artwork hanging in the same museum as Robert Rauschenberg. Chris holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from USC.