If you do not know Natasha Trethewey, I suggest that you take a moment the next time you are in a bookstore to read her works of poetry. I found myself mesmerized by the beauty of her voice today as she read Miscegenation, a poem that describes her parent’s mission to seek each other at a time when interracial dating and marriage was against the law in Mississippi. Some of William Faulkner’s writings address the topic of 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.