August sun hot
Beats against blacktop
Sending waves rising like eels
Shimmering in a silver pond.
Tobacco all cropped now
The season's yellowing stalks
Wait in fields for September's disc
To return them to earth
I stand in the late summer silence
Looking in the direction where once
An old farmhouse stood--
And stands yet still and gray in memory:
Siding cracked and weathered,
Exposed crawlspace where hens
Ran to brood over young chicks
When the late season's thunderstorms
Flashed lightning and sent rain
Pelting the house's tin roof
Like drummer boy's rap-tap-tap on snare drum,
But no rain now to cool this dog-day afternoon
So I stand on front porch
Eating cold biscuits poked with finger
And filled with sorghum's sweetness
Waiting 'til in mind's eye I see him
Returning from the fields, rim of felt hat
Soaked dark with the sweat of labor.
I wait to be picked up and held in his arms
To smell the earth on his clothes
As he hugs me to himself.
I stand, and wait, and remember,
How his dog Shep walked by his side
Eyes fixed on his eyes 'til the day
When across the fields I saw him
Running to the plot of ground
Where now his master's body lay planted
Awaiting his rebirth at God's resurrection.
And how my mother, torn at the sight
Cried uncontrollable tears until long after
The Carolina sun had painted red
The western skyline
And how I too, torn in my sorrow, wept.