Snapshot: Mama Possum

Mama Possum, by John Jennings.

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Snapshot: Mama Possum

by John Jennings
Southern Cultures, Gothic South (Vol. 29, No. 4)

“Mama Possum is a character cursed by her ancestors because she killed one of her children.”

I was born in rural Mississippi in 1970, right after the Civil Rights Movement. In my formative years, I was thankfully unaware of the institutional struggles of racial oppression and violence that remained. My childhood was filled with barefoot treks on dirt roads, ice-cold well water, my grandfather’s thickly calloused hands, my mother’s books, and my grandmother’s stories of spooks and ha’nts. In retrospect, my grandmother was probably a conjure woman. Her stories of witches riding our backs, herbal remedies, and protective practices, like the horseshoes over every one of our doors, are evidence to me now that she was most likely adept at hoodoo or some other Afrocentric spiritual practice.