Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born in Valdosta, Georgia. My grandfather was more tied to the mythos of the South than my parents were. My grandfather said at the kitchen table one time, “Your grandmother is a Yankee [from Ohio],” marking her as different somehow, and her within earshot washing dishes. At maybe five years, I required an explanation, and was told about this strange thing that had been the US Civil War. That was the beginning of my awareness of indigenous US “Southernness.”
Remembering the Go-To-Church South
When we went there alone, I remember the key held
by my grandfather’s cousin a half-mile down, chickens
darting in the yard, him appearing on the porch where
some story or news must be told while he palmed it.
I remember the quiet sunlight in Rowe Town Church’s
tall sanctuary windows.
Other times, on Sundays, I remember the voice of
the sermon, thoughts floating with dust motes, staring
at a window. Afterwards, the photo album of relatives
at tables under pecan trees, I remember looking down
at the hard-packed dirt, the cheery lift of women’s voices,
sweet tea, fried chicken, staring away to the bluff’s
dense edge of trees where, beyond, is the ripe mud
of the dark, cypress-filled river.