Some memories I’ve re-formed from photographs:
the tract house near Fort Hood and the blue Dodge
I steered while Daddy drove. Some memories
I’ve scripted, blocked, and filmed from family stories:
Aunt Ruth delights in telling how I’d crow
“Let Androo fix it,” and jab my plastic wrench
into the toaster. And once, apparently,
I talked Jack into chewing fourteen pill bugs.
But this one I’d swear to on a hymnal:
I’m six. I’m hunkered by the state road, holding
a brown leaf fallen from a truck—tobacco,
cured bright leaf the color of the Constitution,
fragrant with red earth and perfumed with slow dying.
I held it to my face, experiencing
not rapture, transport, ecstasy, which I
have never known and don’t expect to know,
but pleasure, which, with that leaf, I started learning.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 11 Number 5, on page 44
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