The latest collection of poems from North Carolina's past Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer is a delight to savor. Rather than go on at length about the luminosity and emotional impact of her verse, not to mention its sly wit, I'm going to give you a sample (with Kay's kind permission.)
These two excerpts hint at the struggle some of us Southerners of a certain age still have in coming to terms with our beautiful/terrible/flawed heritage.
from Gone Again
. . .
after sixty-two years, Scarlett makes me feel
tired -- all those hours I wasted, enraptured
by someone whose skin was sheer
celluloid, whose voice, when the reel came
loose, gibbered like mine when I tried
to pretend I lived just down the road
from that movie set, cotton fields painted
on canvas, the loyal slaves hoisting
up sacks full of nothing
but chaff for the wind, that old
Hollywood hack, to keep blowing away.
from Shadow Sister
. . .
Sometimes I still want what you want,
The keys to a red-hot convertible,
top down, and who the hell cares
if a hard rain comes,
we're headed north, east,
west, we are out of here, girl.
. . .
I had the devil of a time deciding which complete poem to share here, but this one is just perfect for mid-May.
Little by little, the earth sheds
her veils. Lets her white blossoms
tremble. The river shakes out her blue
shimmy and scrubs it to smithereens
over the singing rocks, leaving her
sunny side up, such a tease
that I sway to her music
as if I am Salome's sister,
and not an old woman who knows
that the inkblot of sky on this page
of my daybook will soon begin fading,
because how can anyone, even Great
Grandaddy Death stay asleep
amid so much awakening?
If you want more, look for Descent HERE.
(I think that the lovely picture of KSB was taken by her daughter.)