an old man

it is only by time and
a very tired toleration
a collaborative insulation
that he dwells here now
insubstantially demeaned
observed without recognition

a much mellowed voice
rasping nicotine moans
and cottage cream eyes
wandering over soiled pages
leathered hands trembling
as he unfolds the map

“I done come f’om he’e”
he says with sad certainty
“this was ou’ home
my people f’om he’e
you ask anyone he’e now
they tell ya true—this was ou’ home

“my daddy he was a fa’mer
and his daddy befo’e him
it wasn’t the fi’e killed him
it was the land dragged him down
it was the land sucked him dry
sucked the life clean out o’ him

“so i done left, come out he’e
but this” he insists tapping the map
“this was ou’ home”
he closes his eyes
his sighs sinking ponderously
into the dusty earth

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Fleetwood Church in Culpeper County, Virginia