—from Against Hiking
BY MARCUS MYERS
Then I find an arc of relief
in cool and silver shade along
the homestead road, where I sit
on limestone beside the clearing’s edge
before the house in ruin, and eye
the sun-faded ruts returning
what the person-heavy wheels
had taken from many seasons
to fern and blackberry,
to pin oak and cedar.
All the folks from last century left
on this road and I imagine
they came to know their ownership,
their rootedness and family ties,
as tenuous as catfish
in hand for dinner one second
and slipped out the next.
I walk to the hearth and breathe in dust
and mold and imagine the smell of oak
and venison stew, the sound of guffaws
and jokes, of turkey calls, promises and threats,
of pride and honor, all legacy here.
All but a sense of their hate
and love decays—the tired homestead
awake to the South’s unsleeping body
of rot and rust.
Across from the Conoco
yesterday in Jasper: Outside the store
a Confederate flag over the head
of a boy who pulled
his brother in a Radio Flyer
along the shoulder, around
the blacktop’s fetid, smashed
opossum rug. The elder boy
wore a put-upon look that said perhaps
he would one day find a body
more deserving of his father’s
pain than his.