Red Dirt, White Church

It was a hop, skip and jump
Down a red-dirt path
Through the piney woods.
Turn the corner to find
That shiny white church
Where you raised your voice
In praise.

Half-crossed over
From the hunger and fever,
The departed crowd ’round
Now.
Their messages get lost
In so much speaking,
But through it all
I hear you warbling,
The Old Wooden Cross.

How I loved each twist
Of the drive
That climbed up out of Vulcan’s city —
With its smells and its smokes —
Past the forest
Reposed ‘neath blankets of kudzu,
To your house
With its inexplicable doors.
The pines still bring it back to me.

You made so many things
Out of the good tree dirt —
Gardeners by necessity.
The table full of plates.
And moving
From place to place —
To find
Where the money
Might be good.
But always,
Always,
The people to feed —
And you showed us
How this was to be done.

I never thought you as hard,
As the others did.
Though hardened, to be sure,
By the clock’s worried hands.
At the end of it,
You had a decades-long reach
Recalling the names —
A bear in the woods —
The food that was gathered there.

Stubborn,
An unbending will
And alone at the end —
Did your god guide you
Through those gates,
And down the red dirt path
To sing again
Glory
Hallelujah
In the little white church?
Do you still wait there
For a resurrection?

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About Emily

I may or may not have: A. Dirt B. Ink C. Paint D. Wool under my fingernails.

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