Carter Welch :: delta works ::


Southern Legitimacy Statement: My father’s grandparents moved to Greenville, South Carolina when he was young. He visited them and noticed their accents changing. My mother grew up so far south in Michigan she could walk to the Indiana border. I grew up south of Canada, feeling its pressure always on my voice and manners. And I grew up south of Silver Beach, where tourists drown every summer. The northerly winds often leave their bodies, dead, on the southern beaches.

delta works

there is a story about oostkapelle
i often return to when i think about zeeland.
it’s about the dune grass there.
many years ago, the story goes,
a brother and sister grew tired of the floods
that upended their mother’s garden.
it was a humble display, where she grew radishes
and pears smaller than you’ve probably seen,
yet they were rich and pungent
and dazzling shades of rose and cream.
they stole some grass from the neighbor’s pasture,
braided it tight for days,
and placed it under the dunes.
long reeds sprouted and came alive
and the wind whistled through and
cast deceptive melodies and the
floods came gentler until one day
they never again appeared.

the car radio crackles as a supermarket
advocates for florida strawberries,
ebulliently red and devoid of any resemblance
to the sweet and delicate ones clinging to wild bushes.
i stopped buying them long ago.
i do not cross the tappan zee when it snows.
yet today began warm and golden
on the road to lake sebago.

i go there with my son to fish. i do not like
fishing and i wonder whether he does.
but the hills there let me forget where i live
and perhaps it does the same for him.
this morning i tell him the story of the
girl and the boy in oostkapelle. i hope he would
do the same for his other father. he says,
i would do it for you.

it begins to snow. i once drove often in the snow
and i still remember how. the traffic grows
dense and coagulated and the way down reads
tremendously far and a pickup ahead of me
loses his back feet and squirms right then left
into a sedan, then a tanker, then into me.
the railings, rusted and skinny, take a dent
from the tanker and are gone for me
and there we go, earth to water deep.
we rush, clear and serene,
wheels flailing toward the tappan zee.

i wish for a braided dune grass reed,
to hold my son’s hand and clasp mine upon
its just green tendons, to hang there in the
golden snow high above that forgotten sea.