Picture of single persimmon on a branch - backlit
Persimmon Poetry:
Where I'm From
by Devin Routh ()

 
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Where I’m From


I’m from rolling pastures
Veined by dry creek beds.
Where centenarian white oaks,
Younger than great-grandma Lucy
And her calamine feet,
Shade the black angus mixed with
The santa gertrudis as they
Chew their cud.
I’m from kitchens
Where green beans
And ice cream
Make music when we
Cook them,
Gardens and orchards where we
Grow corn and tomatoes,
Watermelons and apples,
And enjoy the occasional persimmon pudding.
Ambrosia isn’t coconut and pineapple,
It’s two cups of sugar,
Two cups of milk,
Two cups of flour,
Four eggs, cinnamon, vanilla,
And two cups of persimmon pulp.

I’m stuck between Erect
And Climax,
On the way to High Point
But I never go there.
I go down yonder
And ask ‘chup to?

I buy hay from Jack Fagg,
Honey from Janice Horny,
Meet John Brown at 3 a.m.
To discuss politics and watch
His drunk father drink more.

I see my cousins
When I drive 22 to town,
“Routh Oil Company,”
“Alvin’s Automotive.”
Eric, adopted Cherokee,
Still my blood kin, gives me 5th Avenues
To say goodbye.

In the barnyard,
I smell the diesel
Granddaddy Routh used to scrub
The grease from under our fingernails.
At the dinner table,
I taste fire in the peppers
Grandpa Cranford collected in his shirt pocket.

I’m from coldwater springs
Where we lose boots and calves
To the mud, like quicksand but only knee deep.
I’m from flower gardens
Where opossums slumber,
Where they wake under the moon
To eat the leftover cat food.

On my farm,
We build cairns as monuments
For the dogs and cats,
Feed corn to the deer and save them
From the hunters.
Sanctuary. “Jesus is Lord
Over Gray’s Chapel,”
But my grandpas taught me
How to fish, how to sow,
To kiss the catfish
And throw them back
(Their lips look just like a person’s),
Taught me how to look for pine hearts
And cut wood already fallen,
How to give life
And only borrow it.

Devin Routh
reprinted here by permission of the author.  Originally published on photographer Dan Routh's blog entry from August 14, 2008 here.