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  • Tennessee sharecropper and: Honey Eater
  • Gregory Powell (bio)

tennessee sharecropper

for clara williams

she measures wealth not in silver dollarsanchoring her black patent-leather purse& her family in a sharecropper’s house.She’d handed out more than she’d received.

her mule’s shoe, walked as thinas her thumbnail, was no reason to faint.besides, her mother had never taught her to faintbut raised her on the bread of Hope instead.

therefore, she never taught her daughtersto faint, even if hard work & broken promisesrode their shoulders into the concrete dirt.hard times & twisted tongues could bend

one’s back into an eternal horseshoe,framing an otherwise empty sky.

Honey Eater

for June Williams

Had grandfather swallowed a cherry pit?    As it had been rumored & relayed as reliable factBy cherry gazers who’d stood next to him.    His skin, a month later (to the very minute

Of his pit swallowing), had deepened red.    Ruddy. As if he’d stripped to skin & washedIn sun; until he’d stood, sun stroked    & bronzed before his wife. Asked her for a butter

biscuit. She’d always given him her last.    Am I heir (not to rumor/not to excess) but tohis swallowings: pit or gristle?    Rind & fat? Fin or scale?

To become what we eat; gobbling a green    Persimmon would not only lock my jaws butWould sharpen my objective eye; to    find value & truth in my dipstick ethic.

What if I swallow Regret—    the whole of it? not just the gristle; not just the pit;not just the bone; all six (6) leaden letters;    spoonful of honey to sweeten the swallowing. [End Page 755]

Gregory Powell

Gregory Powell earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, an M.Div. from Regent School of Divinity; and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He works as a labor and employment law attorney and is an associate pastor of education at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.



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