Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Tupelo Honey

Van Henderson

My friend has a white beard and head of hair,
Looks like a woodsman Santa Claus.
He sits in the wicker chair on his front porch,
Tells me he just doesn’t understand poetry.
If you want to say something about love,
Then don’t talk about trees blowin’ in the wind,
He says with a frown of frustration. Just talk about
Love. He doesn’t understand that his stories,
Told in his southern baritone, are poetry.
The one about Tupelo honey, how the bees
Fan out like soldiers into the Apalachicola
Swamps, full with white blossoms.
He says sometimes the honey’s amber color casts a green hue
And its sweetness will never granulate because it’s so pure.

My mouth waters as he describes the perfect
Crème brulee. The biggest mistake, he says,
Is not enough water in the water bath.
Shield the custard from the heat like a vegetarian
From beef. When you’re ready to serve it,
Take the torch (for him a two syllable word),
Maintain a slow and even motion, like a mother
Swaying a baby in her arms, as you harden the sugar.

When we speak of getting older,
He points to his hair, little lines outside
His eyes, the belly over the belt. I say I’d love
To be like I was twenty years ago. He tells me,
Sometimes we have to give up what we
Were, to become who we were meant to be.
And he says he doesn’t understand poetry.


Van Henderson has studied poetry at Mercer University. She lives in Macon, Georgia, with her husband and two children.

© Van Henderson

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