“Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were dragged from bed in
1958 and spent 25 years in exile for breaking Virginia’s
miscegenation laws.”
–Loving v. Virginia 1967

Posed beside her husband, is this
what my great-grandmother feared, bleached

hand pressed gently against cherry oak
skin? Was she lungs full and waiting

to be dragged from the house
and exemplified, to be stripped

from bed in the pink
hours of dawn? To be exiled

when her only crime was loving
a man whose claim to Cherokee

was nothing more than a lie
that slipped between flax teeth?

Mel Ruth is a non-binary Baltimore transplant and Poetry MFA candidate at the Arkansas Writers Workshop. They have held positions as Graduate Teaching Assistant, president of The Graduate Writers Association, poetry and blog editor for Arkana, and lead writing workshops at the local juvenile court. Mel has pieces published in Pleiades, Emerson Review, Red Earth Review, New Pages, and more. Melinda was a Slice Literary Magazine “Bridging the Gap” Award Finalist, and their chapbook A Name Among Bone, was listed as a semi-finalist in the spring 2020 Black River Chapbook Contest. Follow them on Twitter @_Mel_Ruth_.