Day fades out, folds in-
minutes run their hands through the hours,
tangle themselves in weeks and months
like the slow grip of Kudzu twines
the passing of time around the river cypress.

Barn swallows raise their wings
against a sky angry with the roil of early rain.
They dance spirals on a gray backdrop-
ballerinas dressed in browns and russet,
their choreography follows remembered winds.

The river kisses its banks with slow pleasure.
It slides against stone and branch
like the track of a blacksnake through warm rows;
only shadows mark their passage.


Colored women form a ribbon on the shelved bank-
their hands fly in rhythm as they clean fish.
scales shimmer the earth at their feet,
float atop dark water like prism.
They slip entrails beneath the surface to feed continuance.

Children pop-the-whip through young corn.
They rustle the stalks with a breeze of laughter,
frighten the snake from its basking row.
In the near distance, a dog howls his exclusion-
swallows in their cribs dip towards the sound.

An old man naps in the shade of an oak,
back pillowed against its kudzu-wrapped trunk.
Clover bees churr their approval at the still of sleep;
they waft in drifting circles around his shoulders.


Night draws in, pulls out-
it recedes across fields and canopies in spectrums of blue.
Swallows wake in the eaves, barn cats stretch
in the slow rift of day; their backs bowed in tight arcs.
Along ditch and fence, Queen Anne lifts her lacy heads.

Migrants jump from flatbeds onto acres of tilled earth.
They glean until dusk, carry baskets balanced on their heads.
At noon they squat in bright groups among the rows,
eat cold rice and pork from paper sacks.
Afterwards, they tuck the folded bags under their hats.

A woman in a red kerchief pins sheets to a line
strung between the span of two young oaks.
She slaps them smooth with the flats of her hands,
their sharp cracks scatter squirrels from branch to branch.


Day ends, night begins-
The river calls turtles from rock cooled with dusk.
Swallows tuck beaks to breast, the silver spruce
curls its leaves against the moon. Beneath a porch,
a dog chases rabbits through the twitch of dreams.

Mothers smoke at open windows and watch while
children follow fireflies on their uneven dance,
capture the glow in jars with punctured lids.
Their laughter bells beyond where wood meets bank,
its whisper rides ripples across the black water.

Old men sit under cypress canopies at river's edge,
their faces dim in the spill of lanterns.
Empty milk jugs tied to cane-lines bob the surface;
they pass bottles and wait for time to pull them under.


Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

You write as if you were a hundred years old... telling tales so deeply, so many images to see along the way, so much life... like you were a hundred.

The Lettershaper said...

Not quite a hundred....but well on the way!

dsnake1 said...

i love the rich imagery you have painted, especially the little details that make this poem so engaging. for example : "Swallows tuck beaks to breast, the silver spruce curls its leaves against the moon". i could go on and on.

and the last line is just perfect. great stuff! :)