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Eudora Welty Suite: Five Poems

From: Eudora Welty Review
Volume 4, Spring 2012
pp. 129-133 | 10.1353/ewr.2012.0009

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

I. Any Room Is A Room To Read In (Eudora Welty: 741 North Congress Street)1

She said any time of day
is the right time for reading,
mornings when curling up
with Mother in a rocking chair
that nattered like crickets
inserting their voices
into the tale,

any time on a winter afternoon
beside the coal fire’s blush
of secrets in the dining room,
the clock calling:
“cuckoo cuckoo,”

any time in the kitchen
as mother churns
and the story sobs and throbs:
   Come, butter, come. Come, butter, come.
  Harriet’s at the garden gate
  Waiting for her butter cake.
  Come, butter, come,

and any evening when the sky turns
and the sun slides down
a soulful-Jackson hillock
and listens in,
and then, when it is bedtime,
storytime, anytime

before the next morning
when it is time
to read “Puss in Boots” again.

II. Eudora Welty: Listening Toward the Hall

Listening through memory’s ear,
she said she heard her father whistling,
lips, tongue, teeth, breath,
bringing joy, bringing him close,
as Mother, hums back, as she fries bacon,
and dances to “The Merry Widow,”
and says she hears the crystal notes
childhood playing, and pursing her lips
into a perfect O, finds in familiar sounds,
the harmony of art’s recalling.

III. The Sharpest Recognition Comes From Within (After Eudora Welty)

She said the eye is indigo,
is olive and ash,
is a pupil
at the crossroads
of circumstance.
She said the eye darts
from one place to another
even if it is lazy sometimes,
and cannot see past the horizon,
and the mote within it
burns and stings,
doubtful of hindsight,
fearful of foresight:

IV. Truth She Said

The moon never tells
what it sees, never reveals
the robber’s face. Willows
whisper and do not lie
as wishes do; their business
is never truth. It is said
that if a coin is face up
when thrown, it will land
face up on the ground,
and a man seeking his fortune
might wager on the woman
of his dreams. When the sun
goes down, she scrubs red stains
from his face as her mouth
chokes on questions she dares to ask,
and she laughs then,
crows at the audacity of it,
but lies down at the foot
of a money tree in a forest
that is not a forest but a glade,
and cocks her ear
to hear the river’s fog-throttled throat:
Guilt is a burdensome thing
to carry about in the heart.2

V. Eudora Welty On Religion

She said Presbyterians were not allowed
to eat hot food like Vindaloo
or Tom Yum Soup from Thailand
or read “Little Orphan Annie”
in the funny paper on Sunday.
Baptists were not supposed to play poker
or do the Black Bottom dance,
and when she recited Bible verses
in history class in high school
by way of answering the roll,
it was not acceptable to say:
Jesus wept.

Eudora said she sang:
  “Bring them in! Bring them in!
  Bring them in from the fields of sin!
  Bring the little ones to Jesus!”
while Miss Hattie, holding up the chair leg
broken off a Sunday school seat,
stood next to the upright piano,
while its wild unnatural notes,
black like sin, tried to drown out
the pure-white natural ones,
and she waved her arms in the air,
the very wonder of animation.
  “Throw out the lifeline!
  Throw out the lifeline!
  Someone is sinking today!”

And though the tune was rollicking enough
to make little girls in taffeta dresses
and white gloves feel the forbidden desire
in the very soles of their feet and start dancing,
there was much to be learned,
and Eudora remembered Gypsy Smith,
who stirred the businessmen
on Jackson’s Capitol Street
to come and be saved as the church choir sang
“Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling,”
and it was just like an epidemic, the way
those men hastened to receive the Lord.

She said the firebrand editor of the evening paper
rose up one night, proclaiming his righteousness
and pronounced that it was unmitigated gall
for a Mississippian to expect good holy souls
to read...

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