Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mrs. Carroll 1960

1960 Mrs. Carroll was 83,
With bowed back,
Wearing a dress sown together from flour sacks
Tarted up with blue flowers
She embroidered to resemble
Those growing in the west pasture,
Where her Holsteins fed during the day
Before wandering through the bottom
To the creek to escape August’s heat.

She displayed a tintype of her grandfather,
On the mantel of the old house,
Where she was born, raised, married and widowed.
In it an old man wore a confederate uniform
With sergeant’s bars and he was blond, too,
With a wispy beard and clear blue eyes, a son of the South,
Mrs. Carroll said with a tear in her eye:
“He went north and never came back.”

1960 I was eight, living in a ranch-style home,
Built on a piece of Mrs. Carroll’s land,
Sold to my father
For a couple of hundred dollars,
Because she liked his blue eyes
And blond hair and was fooled
By his Eisenhower jacket and khaki shirt,
Sergeant bars on his shoulder,
And ribbons, announcing where he had been since 1942,
Overseas, in the Pacific, in Japan, in Korea
Before coming home to Texas,
Where there was no sea, no islands,
No foreign girls with brown skin and almond eyes.

Mrs. Carroll had a woman,
A young black woman in her 20s,
With chocolate skin and almond eyes,
Who poured me milk and handed me cookies
That I ate on the porch watching the sun set
On the gray land, where sergeants lived
And bats flew at dusk.