– – – after a photograph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard

He scales the mile through waist-high weeds
from the old county road to the open doorway,
carrying a thin black case and a red steel can.
The farm house sits high upon a knoll, its walls
unpainted, buckling outward around windows
boarded and shuttered, prepared for a storm.
Entering, he drops the can and opens the case,
removing a tarnished flute, its dull shine
like an unpolished diamond. He steps outside
and lifts the flute to his lips in a chromatic kiss
appreciated only by himself. He returns here
every week to an image of an evening spent
in front of the hearth, the percussive popcorn
of split oak logs accompanying his wife’s fiddle,
his flute and the neighbors’ guitar and mandolin.
They called it bluegrass, but nothing grows here now.

Stepping inside once again, he sets the flute on top
of a three-legged stool and leaves. Tossing a wooden
match through the doorway, he turns and walks
the mile back down the hill, his arms outstretched,
brushing the tops of the weeds until he’s back
at the road. He turns and lights a cigarette,
listening as the sound of crackling oak walls
keep time with the music in his chest.

Paul Scot August

(first published in The Cream City Review, Issue 17.1, Spring 1993)


14 Responses to “Bluegrass”

  1. PJ DeGenaro aka Chorophyll Says:

    I seem to recall reading (and liking) this one before! I didn’t realize it was yours!!! Percussive popcorn of split oak logs… oh yeah. πŸ™‚

  2. paulscotaugust Says:

    Yeah, I snuck a few of mine on DU now and then without saying they were mine… thanks.

  3. Love the image of torching memories, and of barns, fields, empty farmhouses and bluegrass . Sounds like this area.

  4. Anytime my friend.

  5. Yes. You could have enjoyed crickets, train whistles, and corn fields under a luminous amber moon. Also missed a nice herb roasted chicken dinner with locally grown veggies.

  6. Beautiful.

  7. I remember reading this at your house. You were going through files in your desk. I was honored you shared some of your work with me.

    Hug the kids. I miss you and them.

  8. That’s a hell of a way to say good bye. 😦

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