A Brief History of the Wiregrass
Brian Brown
Your only business here is conjuring the past.

A tintype of your pioneer grandmother
is tattoed forever onto the one wall
left standing in the wake of the fire
that burned unnoticed, as a great-uncle
and obsolete cousins lay drunk in the fields,
helpless and shameless to the fate
of a doomed and all-too-simple architecture.

Your piedmont grandfather, asthmatic
oprhan of the War Between the States,
settled here in 1912, among pocosins
rattling the threat of diamondbacks,
malarial hordes thick as a bible of plagues,
bound in a thorny leather
of prickly pear and palmetto.

This world born in the wink of a lightning storm,
born again and again, survives indifferent
to the extinction of its own place in history,
its sunstruck dogtrots screaming
at the blue velvet of midnight,
when clouds wave high over pines
like ghosts plundering time's emptiness.

One day you'll crucify yourself
on an old fencepost crowned with trumpet vine,
having sought your whole life a place here,
you'll attempt to change the storylines
in what's been a harsh folktale, and pray
the fire won't get anywhere near you,
until you've had time to really feel it,

crackling deep inside your bones.

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