- Between Rivers, Years Between
“Small towns have gone by the wayside. But this one’s going to come back.”—North Mississippi Herald
Across the loblolly desert, death and the Interstate call.“Where you at now? Where?” The handoff drops.Clouds roil the Exitburger with onions and rain.In a pasture’s low slope, skittish Angus huddle the thicket.I half-circle the square, head west on Mesopotamia.
Chased by thunder and leaf devils, a mascot packs his bagpipes.High limbs of a broken oak bow October’s obbligato.Lunchsack luminarias sputter along the grammar school curb.Memory picks on something its own size: late summer’s armin my first teacher’s grip. “Are you white?”
Walking the county road shoulder, thumb out to ghosts driving by.Cousin Leonard racing the Tombigbee bridge in my go-kart,jammed under a pulpwood rig.Camoed Kip in a charred Humvee, back from the Euphrates.And to the children of the living, windows down, tongues stinging.
Under the Brown-Service canopy in folding chairs from church,aunts swap offspring and re-do’s. Out of their hearing,your spider-veined buddies boil goobers, stir salt,stoke pineknot flames, noodle washtub ice for beer. Give ’emrope and a chance slight, they’d throw a necktie party yet.
Sidling wet broomsedge and cedar, I thread the path near the bluffto slow-melting wrought iron enclosing short rows of stone wherelichens blur unknowing names and persimmons await night’s possums. [End Page 186]
Allen Tullos is professor of history at Emory University and co-director of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. In addition to his work in the production of several award-winning documentary films, he has published articles and book chapters on US popular music, Southern visual culture, the politics of space, and contemporary Southern politics. The Southern Quarterly published his essay “Woman on the Run, White Panic Down Home: George Wallace and Other Specters in Mark Childress’s Crazy in Alabama” in its Summer 2012 issue (Vol. 49, no. 4). His most recent book is Alabama Getaway: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie (U of Georgia P, 2012). He is senior editor of the journal Southern Spaces.