a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
they laughed at me. When they saw the fur-lined winter coat,
they split a gut for a week. When they heard my Yankee accent,
they accused me of being a foreigner, and I was. I did not know
a black-eyed pea from succotash, and did not know cotton
could prick your finger. I did not know snipe hunting
was an initiation, and the men ducked when I swung around
with a loaded shotgun, my finger on the trigger. I learned
to never stand on a flat bottom boat. I had a bellyful of their insults:
What was the matter with you? Don’t you put chew inside your cheek?
Didn’t you know the south had won the dispute between the states?
I stayed ten years; ten years too long, driving by shanties
on cinderblocks, seeing sharecroppers tiling the land
with hand plows, breaking red Georgia clay into desperation.
When I fled crossing the frost line towards New York,
I realized a part of me still craved catfish, still drawled
the slow easy way like a man putting together words
in high heat, and still had clay stuck on my shoes.
I left behind magnolias, cypress trees
with their webs of moss, the loons breaking through
clouds, deer crossing on the unpaved roads,
and if I touched corn silk, pollen would stick
to my fingers, yellow as memory, dusting everywhere.