If we consider all things well we can see the marvelous in it: a supply
a saulee of sustenance.
We can grow some good crops on this piece of land but once our land was pretty near worn out
& washed away by the capital power of a staple & we were feeble in our realm & haven of rhetoric
& prosperity & bale. Our arrogant spines failed to give reverence & lead our blood desire to dominate
& power derived largely from unity.
Back then we had plenty of land
back then we had no need to make a memory of our mind’s accomplishments as a source of our unity.
Now I am the last son of a farming family & my only inheritance is such a slight oracy.
I will tell you this.
One day my folks will gather to open the freezer chest & the pantry closets of my granna
& they will find
a quietus of deep provision leading to a peace we so desperately have sought
unknown decades of solace gathered under the shadows cast on the sun by passing clouds
& they will find
beans butter red & white turnips & collards & mustards okra & tomatoes dark rings of beets leg quarters
mayhaw jelly fig preserves strawberried figs creamed corn corn on the cob peach preserves pickled
watermelon rinds homemade sorghum from Joiner’s Market pecan halves blueberries field peas yellow
squash Gulf shrimp ground round & t-bones stew meat & oxtail from Fortenberry’s slaughterhouse pickled
cucumbers corked pepper jars leftover gumbo the provisions of a storehouse the provisions of the places we
So we lived in those places & they carry our names
Leetown Madison Bienville McNeill Nicholson Necaise
Carriere Purvis Gautier Milledgeville Vancleave Sumrall
& we settled into our toponymy & the tires rotted away & crops waited on rain & dust trails
We came to these hills & soon enough came from them. We pressed together as sorghum
pressed to syrup.
I have come to a place near back where I’m from & some old battles still carry on old roads.
A peach peddler under the shade of live oaks guarantees his produce to a wary buyer. Red globes
he says. There’s a story behind that man he says as I look over the produce of his stand. He wants to build forty-
six houses on forty acres near here. As long as I sit on the County Board I won’t let that happen . . . Six dollars
and I can sell you a bag of tomatoes for four if you don’t want to break a ten . . . He comes by and talks to me
about growth but I tell him if he wants to talk about growth he has to buy peaches. Lately he’s been buying more
& talking more. We’ll be going to court . . . Homegrown.
Our trees are back on the banks of Boley Creek he says as he points away from the road
away from the white stand he has shuttered & lettered red with his offerings of produce
& familiar remnants of a graceful economy
& gospelplated with licenses of his core truth & witness:
God Is My Pilot Jesus Is Lord Buckle Up With Jesus Don’t Be Caught Dead Without Jesus Smile: God
Loves You As My Life Got Tougher My Faith Got Stronger In God We Trust Speed Limit: Don’t Drive
Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly One Way: Jesus Christians Aren’t Perfect
Just Forgiven Jesus Paid It All Jesus Christ: Your Key to Salvation With God All Things Are Possible When
All Else Fails Read The Instructions: God’s Word Jesus Is So Precious To Me Stop & Pray God Is Greater
Than Any Problems I Have Don’t Wait For The Hearse To Take You To Church
If You’re Headed In The Wrong Direction God Allows U-Turns
he points past the deep yard he swears has gone to wilderness since they don’t stock parts for his Snapper
past the strands of barb wire & the few head of Brahma & the tree line represents.
& I leave blessed. God go with you he says & I am grateful for his benisons & salvation of acres
from sulh of skulks
for I have no pluck.
My Uncle Amos always claimed
I am not a prophet nor am I the son of a prophet I am a herdsman plucking wild figs
but his name called burdensome
burdensome to the restoration of obstinate tenets pitched on open dirt & he miserly observed
until the rooster crowed
in the wake of mornings when bales are brought from dry & withered
fields of broken stubble & sons sit high upon their stack of labor
& crush as a cart crushes when loaded with hay
in the wake of mornings when an auger bringing up soil catches a tuft of cloth & brings the body in
in the wake of ribs soft between a steer & corral boards
red wishes breaking as deep breath pulls against a skull
enjambed as I a home undone a chute from green fields & rolling range
& then comes a light-gilded warrior beautiful to my fading mind braving the red flows
not failing against rage hot currents brittle white weak
but I have no suit of light no lancer no white hankies waving my honor
not even greasepaint suspenders a round barrel in which to hide
only muddied denim a prod knowledge of market value
burdensome to prophecy to the northern
gainsay to the southern.
We are a hidebound people & a board will break on our backs
an auger will draw us fragile
a cart will crash
& yet we remain a remnant on these traces.
Next to my kin is my parcel
North one-half of the Northeast one-fourth of section 17 township 5 South range 14 West
South 59 degrees 39 minutes 23 seconds west 188.85 feet
thence South 61 degrees 25 minutes 33 seconds West 155.91 feet
thence South 69 degrees 49 minutes 08 second West 75.53 feet
thence South 76 degrees 53 minutes 24 seconds West 177.61 feet
thence leaving said margin
North 00 degrees 04 minutes 36 seconds West 236.32 feet to a 4” post
thence East 544.09 feet for the point of beginning.
This parcel containing 1.753 acres more or less
& a draw flows through my tract of meager magnolia shade & disperses overflow from kin pond
& draining away once was a split of adder tongue
to a neighbor pond delving
so water crosses here & still there is an insistence of limbs dry through the blade
because a lack of presence
& thin lammed soil.
I am a cultivar born of rich dirt & weak by transplant shock.
Salvation comes by pruning of prepuce wood cutting pleaches from dieback. O
days parch magnolia blossoms fall unbranching from arched limbs
& beds of decadent acreage
as marrow saps paper bones to promise heirs loom beautiful passes.
Lord I am trussing away.
I have run mine springs to clay & hickory flows of trotlines drawing.
Succeed my pilgrimage courage & mayhap. Selah Selah.
Brent House, author of The Saw Year Prophecies (Slash Pine Press), co-editor of The Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast (Snake Nation Press, forthcoming), and contributing editor for The Tusculum Review, is a native of Hancock County, Mississippi, where he raised cattle and watermelons on his family’s farm.