Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Up on the Highway

Dr. Peggy Smith Duke

Granny said taming that river
was a good thing seeing as
Uncle Roy drowned during the flood
trying to cross Goochie’s Ford

in the car. We went to see
Granny’s new house up
on the highway. They built Aunt Effie
one, too, to move them out of the holler

where they were making a lake.
Three rooms and a freezer porch
and they dug
brand new outhouses.

She had electricity now, up
on the highway, so the TVA
put in an electric stove
and a wood stove. She cooked

on the wood stove
because it did better. A crock
of buttermilk with a saucer on top
sat on the kitchen table

waiting for the black skillet of
corn bread that came
out of the wood stove

A warm, humid breeze
lifted the rhythm of horses
and Mennonite wagon wheels
through the open window

a swinging lantern its only
light on the moonless night.
Come morning we helped Aunt Effie
lower the quilting frame

from the ceiling in the sitting room
before we left to come back home
with baskets full of peas and corn
and two quilts they had just finished.


Dr. Peggy Smith Duke is a poet and writer living in rural Middle Tennessee, with her husband, four dogs, one cat, and a disagreeable horse. During racing season, she serves as crew chief for her husband’s competitive sportsman drag racing. She worked in aircraft and appliance manufacturing for 20 years and has published in newspapers, professional journals, and magazines for 30 years. Her poetry has been published in The Trunk (2003, 2004) and John Reid’s Traveling: An Anthology of Award-Winning Poetry (2005). Her poem, "Shirt Factory," won Most Highly Commended recognition in the Tom Howard Poetry Contest, and she is three times a poetry winner in the Middle Tennessee State University Writer’s Loft Fiction and Poetry Competition. She holds a BS in Journalism and an MA in Industrial Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University, and an EdD from Vanderbilt University. In 2004 she completed a writing certificate with a focus in poetry.

© Dr. Peggy Smith Duke

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012