Nathaniel Thames: Poetry: Nov 2021

Southern Legitimacy Statement: We don’t say ‘I’m from the South’ here. I usually don’t have to say where I’m from. People know our Texas from the way we talk, slow. The way we walk, with a purpose. The way we act, hospitable. The way we dress, not to please you. And what we eat, whatever we damn well please (but you thought I was gonna say barbeque).

1325 FM 67, Covington, TX, 76636

The dirt drive dips down at the end, pointing the Windstar to the sky
as we pull up to this hovel. This place we have been relegated to.

Two men wave down from the roof, slamming hammers into tin. 
This single-wide on someone else’s land is a sad place to land
at the end of twenty years, a new family of three under this roof.

Missing the two that made us five. They’ve absconded. All the way up the plains.
They froze us out. Every penny drained. Everything but the beat, old kitchen table 
packed up and shipped up north. Yet here we are, sitting sullenly
around that old, worn table. Cold chicken hitting teeth. No one speaks.

Off to bed with the sunset, because here there are no lights. No water either. 
Need a bucket to fill the tub and toilet. A well, closer to the main house, 
with an old, wooden pump handle spits out dirty water. No good to wash in.
Not getting plumbing anytime soon, but maybe electricity some time,
maybe in the next month or so. We’ll see. Hopefully.

The Windstar we’ll lose in a few weeks. Totaled. I’ll be a bruise. Pissing blood.
But we’ll get a beater, Delta 88, donated from St. Ann’s. It’s where we get our food too.
That will be a sticky point going forward, I’ll feel most down about that.
But we aren’t there yet. We’re at day one. Day one done. 

Every other vessel we have sits out to collect water as the storm clouds roll in,
the thunder rumbling, closer and closer. Get the water while you can. Thank God
for the tin roof that clatters in a downpour. Then the drip,

drip, drip. Steady. Drops fall on my face, laying on my makeshift bed. These aren’t all tears.
But they mix well with the rain.