MasonDixon Lines p o e t ry b y Dav i s M c c o M b s "Field of Burley tobacco on farm of Russell Spears, drying and curing barn in the background, vicinity of Lexington, Ky.," Marion Post Wolcott, September 1940, FSA/OWI Color Photographs, Library of Congress. He clucked his tongue, slapped the bull's rump, and turned a herd of Angus, single file, through the narrow gap in the fence to the barn lot. He lingered by the tailgate of his pickup, smoked while the sky reeled icy cirrus over the fescue, and foretold the sheets of rain that, by midweek, draped the blue hills and approached, the hay bales safe in the loft. He played the barn vents at curing time like the stops of an instrument, and went on, cupping his hands around the life he'd inherited as if it were a flame. The cedars smoked their pollen into the blue air; a drought month lit the shucks of fall, and he searched the sky's empty bowl but never saw the storm that, far beyond him, was purpling like a bruise and taking everything he took for granted. From "Tobacco Mosaic," originally published in Dismal Rock (Tupelo Press, 2007), winner of the Dorset Prize. Reprinted by permission.
Southern Cultures – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jan 31, 2015