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

Runaway

Barefoot in the actual dark, I packed a paper bag
And found the way out of my lover's house.
I had only the glass coffee table as obstacle; I slipped
Around it without stump or stumble. I left
The door slightly open; no draft lives in Louisiana's summer.
And how I could not move so quickly and away
When twenty years earlier I learned this skill —
How to shake the night's hand in confidence,
How to trust that no star will talk? I deserved this,
My anniversary — I had run from the sound of my father's sleep,
From his heavy resting hands. I first noticed then
The front yard's magnolia tree, understood its promise to shed
And cover, that tree's duty to that
Smell and knew too my duty to tear like a switch through
Air, to strike the street's edge in a pair of tattered shoes,
Unconnected, alone. I made it
To Fairfield Street before the headlights of Daddy's pickup
caught me
In mid-blur. But I left my lover better: I knifed a tire before I went
So no light could find my back, no right hand could break from
Steering. One fist clenched
My brown bag as I sniffed for magnolia and made a deal with
the dark.

Published in Please (Kalamazoo, Michigan: New Issues Poetry & Prose, Western Michigan University, 2009).

Published: 4 March 2010
© 2010 Jericho Brown and Southern Spaces