Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Between Rivers, Years Between

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Between Rivers, Years Between

Article excerpt

"Small towns have gone by the wayside. But this one's going to come back."-North Mississippi Herald

Across the loblolly desert, death and the Interstate call.

"Where you at now? Where?" The handoff drops.

Clouds roil the Exitburger with onions and rain.

In a pasture's low slope, skittish Angus huddle the thicket.

I half-circle the square, head west on Mesopotamia.

Chased by thunder and leaf devils, a mascot packs his bagpipes.

High limbs of a broken oak bow October's obbligato.

Lunchsack luminarias sputter along the grammar school curb.

Memory picks on something its own size: late summer's arm

in my first teacher's grip. "Are you white?"

Walking the county road shoulder, thumb out to ghosts driving by.

Cousin Leonard racing the Tombigbee bridge in my go-kart,

jammed under a pulpwood rig.

Camoed Kip in a charred Humvee, back from the Euphrates.

And to the children of the living, windows down, tongues stinging.

Under the Brown-Service canopy in folding chairs from church,

aunts swap offspring and re-do's. Out of their hearing,

your spider-veined buddies boil goobers, stir salt,

stoke pineknot flames, noodle washtub ice for beer. …

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