Southern Legitimacy Statement: My parents are both Mississippians. My grandfather, Reuben Davis, published two novels about life in the Delta. I grew up in Auburn, Alabama, catching snakes, turtles, lizards, and crawdads, and went to college at the University of the South (Sewanee), where I now teach. I still eye watermelon with suspicion before the fourth of July, as my grandma taught me (even if she was a Yankee).
A drought of words needs silence to break it.
You have to come away from those you love.
Put yourself behind a fence.
Let your mind pace like a horse in paddock.
A rusted pump handle stands outside.
You know exactly how it would feel in your hand,
the grit of it, the grind like sandpaper.
Sit in the porch rocker till the slats
make ladders across your legs.
Gaze softly at the squinted half-lap joints
of a cabin standing for two hundred years.
Silence between the fence pickets,
sunlight touching their inner edges
like a lover’s fingers along a thigh.
Moss on the brick path, green as a new field.
Let the silence roll around your mouth like wine.
The evening creatures sing themselves to sleep,
knowing that, come morning, it will rain.