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.