An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections

The Chimney

Inside the chimney my father built
with stones we hauled from Six Mile Creek,
above the flue, beneath the soot,
is a penny I watched him press into the mortar

before he hefted another slab of shale,
another fractured gypsum brick,
so after the pitched roof falls,
after the shingles and cherry rafters crack

and burn in someone else's fire,
until the chimney stands marooned
in the clearing in the woods, and later falls,
smooth stones sliding down the hill,

when someone, a young man walking to the creek mouth,
stops at the glint from a rock, mica or quartz,
and finds a coin so black and thin
he can barely read the year —

then, my father said, someone will think of him,
long ago pulling the penny from his pocket
and pressing it against the drying chimney,
leaving his long thumbprint swirling.

 

Published in Chattahoochee (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2004).

Published: 14 April 2009 © 2009 Patrick Phillips and Southern Spaces