Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Exorcism

Elizabeth Howard


Uncle Jerdan, we called him,
the black man I thought ancient,
who walked every country mile,
saving the buggy for his and
Aunt Dinah’s trips to town.
After the two miles to our house,
he was exhausted, breathless.
Mother placed a cane-bottom
chair in the shade of a peach
tree, and he crumpled into it,
sighing. While he waited to
speak with Father, I scampered
barefoot about the yard, chasing
fancies. I stepped on a wasp
and ran screaming to Mother.
“Come here, Baby.” Uncle Jerdan
lifted me into his bony lap,
pondered my foot, his eyes
milky, limbs trembling.
“This’ll make it better.”
He spat tobacco into his hand
and gobbed the mess on my hurt.
I leaned my head on his chest.
His smell--liniment, tobacco,
woodsmoke--comforted me.
I was almost asleep when I
heard Mother apologize for
my weight, my long legs.
“No trouble,” he said.
“No trouble atall.”

***

Elizabeth Howard has an MA in English from Vanderbilt University. She writes both poetry and fiction. Her work has been published in Xavier Review, Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Wind, Poem, Appalachian Heritage, The Licking River Review, The Distillery, and other journals. She has two books of poetry—Anemones (1998) and Gleaners (2005).

© Elizabeth Howard

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