Root Beer Float
First time in sixty years I order a root
beer float. I'm old enough to get what I want.
I want to slurp it in private but this man,
construction worker, plops down too.
I slurp. He moves. Good. I ask the soda
jerk for another squirt. I’m old enough.
This construction guy takes out his book
to highlight passages. Sorry I made him move.
Finally, "What are you reading?"
"A Buddhist theory of time and space."
Oh. That's what I wanted to read. I’m
old enough. Another squirt of root beer.
"I hope you enjoy Time and Space."
"Hope as much as you enjoyed your Root Beer."
One last slurp. Bottom’s up.
I’ve paid my bill.
A Time to Go
Everything flows, nothing abides
We walk the Green Way
while our dog swims the Yadkin.
We read history on the road,
the giant flume that brought
the lumber to build our town.
Before the corn reached
our knees, now so high
tassels hide the view
of General Gordon's home.
Gordon, youngest Confederate
General, dead at forty-two.
Nothing lasts forever.
It’s time to go.
First Cherokee meeting place
Keowee, then Mulberry Fields
during the Revolution.
Corn tassels silence
the sound of drum,
footstep of the march.
The harvest comes again.
Worms pitch tent in Mulberry trees.
Nothing will last forever.
It's time to go.
They do Death Right
They do death right
in the South.
"After they wash the bodies
the hair is straight,"
my friend tells me.
"I bring in my own hairdryer
and curling iron.
It's the last thing
I can do for a friend."
In the South, the dead
are safe. The traffic pulls
to the side of the road
for the funeral procession
as for fire trucks in California.
The snake handlers
quote Matthew. “They
who believe in the Lord
will not perish
from the serpent's bite.”
They do death right.
At his viewing, my yard
man who sowed ginseng
and creesie greens for me
wore a brand new pair
of bib overalls.
There was a telephone
among the gladiolas.
The ribbon said, "Jesus called."
They do death right.
“At hog killing time my mother served
cracklings baked in cornbread
and spice wood tea.”
At farmers' market I buy sticks
of spice wood, sourwood honey
and a jar of pigs’ feet, chock
full of gelatin. My mother served me,
when I had mono, gelatin
blended with eggnog. Sickening!
My father brought home pickled
pigs’ feet from the railroad. Delicious!
Glad to be grown up and healthy.
Autumn they drive to Whipperwill
to pick the scuppernong and muscatine.
Spring they troop to Boone for mountain
laurel, family to the avocado, heather
Summer they fish for blue at Nag’s Head,
send Hermit crabs racing for a shell.
Remembering what Jesus said,
"Fox’s have dens and birds of the air
have nests, but the son of man
has no place to lay his head.”
I winter back to California.
Pruners trimmed my giant valley oak.
Birds were looking for their home:
Spanish moss and mistletoe.