For the South

I hate your hills white with dogwood
or pink with redbud in spring
as if you invented hope, as if
in the middle of red clay,
limestone outcroppings,
and oak trees dead with fungus
something slight and beautiful
should make us smile.

I hate the way honeysuckle drapes
fences, blooms in the ditch   
where everyone dumps garbage;
the evening air sweet with cedar
and fields of burley;
the way irises and buttercups
mark the old dimensions of a house
destroyed a hundred years ago;
how a span of Queen Anne’s lace
rocks the whole moon, and the sumac
runs dark against the hill.

I hate the drawl, the lazy voice
saying I’ve been away so long
I sound like I’m from nowhere;
the old hand gathering snowballs or peonies
or forking up an extra dish of greens,
bitter, just the way I like them.

Neal Bowers, "For the South" from Out of the South, published by Louisiana State University Press. Copyright © 2002 by Neal Bowers.  Reprinted by permission of Neal Bowers.
Source: Out of the South (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)
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