Angel Oak

This is a piece by Joshua Myers, a novelist and writer based out of South Carolina whose work explores both the beauty and complexity of navigating life from the black and gay perspective.

If you were to call me a bystander, I would not deny it

I have spent years planted in stoic silence,

Watching as your ancestors were herded from the bowels of ships into cotton fields like cattle

Watching as crowns were stripped from their heads whilst sermons of a white savior

were forced down their throats like communion

Watching as shackles became handcuffs and slave catchers became policemen

If you were to call me an accomplice, I would not blame you

I have spent years planted in plain view,

As strange fruit hung and swung on my arms

As black hands were tied around my body in a sorrowful embrace as whips tore into

flesh and drew blood as red as the flag

As blood, sweat, tears, and flesh were nourished my roots and the descendants of slave

masters benefited from my life and your deaths

If you were to call me a guardian angel, I’d feel humbled and redeemed

I kept the whispered secrets of rebellions inside my leaves

I danced in the winds and hymns of your spirituals

I have grown alongside your children who tied swings on my arms and rested in my shade

I am the Angel Oak