- Tobacco Country
Driving past I didn’t know what they were at first, then I remembered where I was. Kentucky. The patch was small, the rows neatly hoed, as if some one man loved them. But then there were more, and more, and I knew some company owned them. What I want to tell you is how innocent they looked, unaware of what their leaves contained. They were like every other growing thing I had seen that day, the sycamores, the oaks. Carefully cultivated, of course, part of a vast system of economics and politics, responsibility and denial, but there, in that patch, they were alive, and thus somehow blameless. Like cattle being driven towards slaughter, they seemed naïve as to where they were headed: to the factory to be cut and rolled and packed and shipped and stocked and finally bought by a young woman who steps out into the dusk and lights up, breathing all these fields in, then exhales and decides to finally leave him. [End Page 100]
AUSTIN SMITH’s poetry collection, Almanac, was published through the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. He currently lives in Oakland and teaches at Stanford University.