A Way of Saying

The cover features two photos arranged vertically, of a crumbling Southern farmhouse and one of various commercial products made in the South

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 6 No. 1, "Packaging the New South." Find more from that issue here.

to the memory of Ellen Stone Gordon, 1906-1972


Your death was like this


On the way to summer camp

We near the Pee Dee Bridge

I raise slightly my twelve year legs

To distance the trestle and water below


I consider countless rails of cool steel

Circling, winding, plumbing horizons

The feckless eye is wont to seek


From my back seat angle

I see a strand of your hair, obstinate,

Curling near your ear


I see your eye blink

Your voice familiar for the first time.


Soon I’ll study chlorophyll,

Write forlorn letters, their route home a mystery

I’ll trust, not quite believe


On the hike to Conestee

I’ll stumble among strangers

And counselors will urge me

To wade where rocks in cold streams

Tenaciously resist my toes.


And I’ll slide slide fall more quickly

Than hands can grasp, knees lock

(tree limbs just out of reach)


Below me the rocks, the water


Your death like this