Good morning kiss. Their teeth glance. Clack of June
bugs against pane. On the porch a young man
in the full sun rocking.
Jars incubate tomato plants. His mother sweeps the dirt
yard away from flowering vinca and bottle tree.
Straightens up, one-eyed by ragged hens. As her boy
ambles away to the steady pulse
in his skull.
The cattle gate
swinging open behind him.
She takes a headache powder
and it is nineteen and twenty seven.
The James overruns its levee, backs up
the Blackwater. Nineteen and twenty nine: she reads his postcard,
the tobacco crop burns. Nineteen and thirty, drought.
Long limp bags drag through fields. The Lord whistles
for the fly. Revival tents threaten a rain
of scorpions. To cure her hiccups,
the woman sees a hypnotist. Promptly
coughs herself to death. In pungs marked men ride. The son
is blown away. No one returns in this story. No one escapes.
The tribe is glued together for ruination, friends.
There is no more time, there is no way out.
Forrest Gander, “Abcess” from Lynchburg. Copyright © 1993 by Forrest Gander. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press, www.upress.pitt.edu.