Alabama Memories

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 9 No. 3, "The Future is Now: Poisons, Spies, Terrorism in Our Back Yard." Find more from that issue here.

House with peeling skins of gray paint,

with swaybacked wooden porches

furnished with dingy sofas

and wringer washers perched on

old fashioned legs.

Houses with dirt yards and muddy chickens.

Houses with no indoor plumbing,

with outhouses leaning at tipsy angles.

(I remember being embarrassed to pee

in a red-rimmed white enameled chamberpot

on a rainy night with all the old folk

looking at me.)


Sounds of buzzing flies

and screen doors banging in the summertime

Dirt roads where the dust flies up in your fa

and a grassy field where a mule chews

— where a mule chews slow and thoughtful-like.

(Some men have caught a huge turtle

and are dragging it down the street


at the end of a rope. 

An old woman wearing a faded print dress 

fastined with a safety pin says, 

“That’ll make right god soup.” 


I play in the thick, green branches of a tree

knocked down by a storm. 

I eat all the orange candy in the aspirin bottle

and sleep for two days;

wake up wearing a wrinkled dress. 

I steal a doll and my mother makes me

give it back. 

Agnes lets me help her in the kitchen, 

weaving white strips of dough

in a lattice for the apple pie. 


All this returns in a moment, 

bubbling up with the aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon 

Alabama memories returning like a familiar dream.