Lock Butter by Hope Johnson

I be a tender root
a mere indecisive tangle
that has been smashed
and twisted
and rolled smooth
between her caramel palms

woven and shaped into stories
passed down from granny
to momma to grand-baby
that grew and curled
latched and knotted
into strong and wise
black and woman and poem

I carry the scent
of an old lemon picker’s hands
of a little girl’s bare legs
running through summer weeds

the golden strand
that coilsleans toward her lips
when she speaks     writes
hugged in scents of chalkboard
cedar pencils     blank pages

I be immersed
in the butter of her name
thicklike mud still wet
on God’s fingertips

the drop
that became an ocean
tumbling down her waist
the texture of orange peels
and wild Kentucky twangs

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Contributor Notes

“Lock Butter”, is a poem honoring Professor Nikky Finney (poet, teacher, and National Book Award winner 2012), illustrating a young black poet’s admiration of her teacher. In the poem, the author personifies herself as one of Prof. Finney’s dreadlocks; a young student growing from her brilliant mind, to be molded and shaped between her hands. This poem is a sort of “Lock Butter” itself, moisturizing the reader with beautiful language and love. 

Hope D. Johnson was born March 25th 1986 in Lexington, KY where she currently resides. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Kentucky, later becoming an Editor and Graphic Designer at the UK Markey Cancer Center. Johnson has been published in Pluck! Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, as well as Pine, Mountain, Sand and Gravel: Journal of Southern Appalachian Literature. She received honorable mention for her work in the UK Farquhar Poetry Competition in 2011, and was recently guest reader for the Affrilachian Poetry Reading at the Virginia Festival of the Book, broadcasted on National Public Radio March 2012. Johnson was recently the guest poet for Kentucky Entertainment Television’s (KET) Connections Broadcast during National Poetry Month. Johnson’s first chapbook of poems, Beneath Saran, was published and released January 2012.