Monday, September 21, 2009

Kathy, 1966

When my mother was nine she baked the cornbread
every day after school. Her face then
the same as today, blue eyes soft with knowing
mouth quiet and still, resigning to
signed contracts.
Her mother is dying.
She has a bad haircut, maybe did it herself,
the bangs stiff as straw on her forehead,
shoes scuffed, scrawny knees that hold
life weight like a body builder. She can cook
green beans, creamed corn, and pinto beans with
the best of them. Little Kathy can fry
potatoes, feed grown men
a father and brother bent to the plow.
She will feed grown men for many years
bent above their own devices of
turning the ground for sorrow. Kathy
found quiet at Mamaw’s, even though
there was no plumbing. She liked to rest
against the splintery fence watching Mamaw milk
the cow, carry the large sloshing pail into the kitchen
set it on the table and get out two
tin cups, Kathy, you want some milk?
There’s the rows of pink hollyhock where
little girls can run without being seen.
Tall stalks of corn
tobacco for miles.
There’s the honeysuckle,
the smokehouse, the outhouse.
Always at Mamaw’s
there’s the cool creek water where
she took off her white church socks,
tip-toed in the shade of the elms
quietly over smooth river rocks.
Here for hours
she is nine years old.

By Melissa Greene
photo above found at:

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