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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

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Story Quilt

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

The women sew stories

at sunset on the porch,

an old wicker basket

full of fabric by their feet.

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There’s a square of green

from the gingham dress

a girl wore when she first

kissed a boy by the river.

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Here’s a gray head rag,

stained with sweat

by a grandmother who

plowed the jagged back

of this black mountain.

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Those bits of blue denim

are a father’s overalls.

He lost a leg and died

working the railroad.

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That piece is from

the wedding dress

mother made with

a white lace tablecloth.

.

This strip of yellow

was a blanket, dotted

with brown circles

of blood and covered

a chicken feather mattress

where babies were born.

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Four bright pink ribbons

belonged to the twins

who came out holding hands.

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A red checked apron

fed thirteen children

with two catfish

and three stale loaves.

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Each piece, a meaning,

a patchwork of souls

threaded together

by generations

of callused fingers

.

on a front porch

between live oaks

and wisteria vines–

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the lingering smell

of warm cornbread

from the oven.

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Gold and purple sunset

stretched across the sky.

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The Storytellers

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

They tell stories they learned

in school, take off their shoes,

black out a tooth, put on

straw hats to look cute.

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They hold their hands

the way the teacher

told them to

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talk about possums

and articulate with

just enough

dramatic accent

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to make the crowd

in the auditorium go

hee hee and a haw haw.

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Then they get in SUV’s

and drive back to

gated communities.

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Old Mr. Orrie tells stories

at the Fish House for hours

on a black dock that rocks

when waves lap against it

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under a full moon that burns

a gold hole through heaven.

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He carves a loon decoy

while he talks, sun hard arms

a criss cross of white scars.

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Curls of wood fall

soft in the rhythm.

Feathers appear

with a whisper

of his hands.

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When the spirit moves him,

Mr. Orrie picks up his guitar

and sings Lonesome Wind

for a while, then tells us

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about that spring in ’48 when

a gale came down from the north.

It rained blue crabs for three days.

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That was the first time

Mr. Orrie learned how

to catch a headwind and

make his shrimp boat fly.

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Beside the neverending tale

of live oaks and salty roots

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he didn’t once

talk about

possum stew

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and he didn’t

go to school

or charge us

a rusty penny.

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madeline-josh-moon-0105

The Devil’s Tramping Ground

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The devil walks

in a circle

hoof footed

in the thick black

Carolina woods.

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Around, around

sizzle pop ground.

Nothing will grow

where he treads.

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Not one weed.

Leaves won’t

fall in his wake.

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Dare to put

a penny in

his circle;

it disappears

by morning.

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He snorts,

leans forward

head down

hands clasped

behind his back

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thinking of

new ways

to burn me.

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Maybe I will

never find a job

or pay the rent.

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My car might

not start again

and if it does

surely I will

lose control

down slick

mountains.

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At his beck and call,

furry things crawl

down my dark hall.

A man with an axe

breathes by my bed.

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Some silent something

swells in my cells.

Somewhere a finger

hovers above

the button.

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Damn this devil

who stomps

round and round

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leaves a zero

in my gray space,

poems unwritten

work undone.

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He laughs

when the sun

comes up and

it all swirls,

turns to smoke,

dissolves.

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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The Devil’s Tramping Ground is a real place that’s only about an hour-and-a half drive from where I live now.  Supposedly, there is a circle in the woods where nothing will grow, not even weeds..

My grandfather was a master storyteller, and I heard many stories about the Trampin’ Ground from him..

He made up his own versions, including one of my particular favorites that involved a wrestling match with the devil..

I’m not saying there’s anything “to it” or not, because I don’t know.  I just love the stories..They’re part of the language and rich cultural heritage of North Carolina.

According to Wikipedia, the Southern Supreme Fruitcake Factory is located near the Devil’s Tramping Ground.  I almost busted a gut over that one.  Dang, I love my state.  There are poems everywhere you turn.

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