That Old Southern Need

Sat outside under the tin porch roof, back

Up against the door of the raised shed, her

 

Rump on the two cinder blocks that had been

Placed there years ago in temporary

 

Measure until the steps were built. With one

Half full and two unopened hard packs of

 

Cigarettes in her coat pocket, huddled

With her phone in front of her face reading

 

Fantasy books syphoned from her mother’s

Digital account. The shed blocks her view

 

From cars passing on the old country road

And the neighbors who watch through their bedroom

 

Windows or front porches in the scant few

Houses separated by pine scrub and

 

A good country distance. Nestled neatly

Between the lawn equipment, a pile

 

Of scrap lumber, two table saws, and her

Pile of old cigarette boxes and ash

 

That swirls in the breeze leaving spiraled piles,

The neighbors wouldn’t see her if they cared.

 

And they do care—with that old southern need.

The kindness that hides a deeper meanness

 

Evident in the way your name whispers

Between the trees, swirled and settled, spiraled

 

In piles like the ash from trash wood and brush

They are constantly pruning from their yards.

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