This is for my second hometown
I said this poem is for my second hometown
Metter, Ga. It’s OK if you have to google it
The first time I went the name I kept confusing it
Mettle. Middle. Mecca.
Southern drawl had me thinking it was one or all of these
My roots to slavery start here
Family arose from plantations and sharecropping
The living was modest at best
But the people were always honest
On a good day you’ll see a tractor at a red light
A hot plate won’t cost you any more than $5.99
And during the holidays you were surrounded by family
I’ll never forget the first time I went there
My great grandmother had just passed
And the first thing I noticed was all the adults were sad
I was seven.
Too young to understand depression.
Too young to know the woman we were burying was worth the investment
Of love. Of tears.
So I joined my cousins playing tag and hide and go seek
There were so many of us we looked like we were flash mobbing
I stopped counting at fifty
Ripping and running while the adults handled grown things
The next day it finally hit me
Why the grieving was intense
Why every uncle, auntie, cousin, brother, and sister made their way down there.
Why the service felt a million seconds that day
We drove 13 hours to be a part of this.
We were not the longest trip
In 2010 Metter’s census population was slightly over 4,000
Eight years before that it felt like 500
I know because they were all at Mount Zion church on this day
I’ll never forget watching the church fill with so many people they left the doors open
I thank you great grandma
For showing me how a community sends up a loved one
The day she passed is currently a holiday in Metter
Time doesn’t change everything
Not examples, paths, or memories
Metter, Ga. You showed me all of this
It’s still OK if you have to google it
My mama’s matriarch taught us all how to move
How to welcome someone with love and see them through
These are lessons I’m paying forward thanks to you.
—Rodney “OGB” Johnson Jr.
Rodney “OGB” Johnson is a spoken word artist and musician who lives in Washington, D.C. where he is working on a book, And Then the Storm Hits. He read this poem at the end of a two-week writing residency, part of the new AOK Wellfleet Artist Residency program directed by David Simpson and Kathy Fletcher. He is the fourth emerging artist to participate since AOK began programming in Wellfleet in May.