Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

A Land and a Legacy: A Poem in Three Parts

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

A Land and a Legacy: A Poem in Three Parts

Article excerpt

The Delta

This land, this Delta

Is the land of the Percys

And Shelby Foote

Wisteria grows there,

Clinging and heavy scented,

Mauve and sometimes white

Reaching and grasping

and looping

From tree to tree,

All curving coils

All tender leaves and lavender.

To the limbs of old trees

It clings

Like a lonely woman embracing

a memory

Out of the past.

Sometimes through fields

of cotton

Shallow creeks flow

With seeming stillness.

Sudden depth hides there,

Quicksand and undertow,

Silent swirls

That suck one down and under.

A covey of quail

In flight,

Sudden winged thunder,

They rise quick, staccato

To fly against a sun

That guarantees

This Delta a bounty of white gold.

The Hill Country

This land, this hill country

Is the land of a man named Medgar

And a dreamer named Tennessee.

Chickasaw and the Choctaw paths

Crossed this land

In a time before Dancing Rabbit

And Doaks Stand.

Then the yeoman farmer came

His home was single pen

A double pen and dog trot,

But he cleared these hills

Built roads and bridges

And saw steam engines

Puff in and out of towns named

Amory and Aberdeen

Macon and Meridian

The Hill Country is

Yesterday and Today

It is an Indian

Trading Pelts for flint,

The shouts of blue coats

Following Sherman and Grierson

And then the sound of saw teeth

Against ancient loblolly logs. …

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