by Lisa Kendrick
The deep summer night envelops me like a costly cloak of billowing satin.
A chorus of night creatures hums a medley against whirring air conditioners
and milling cars.
One stray mosquito, having escaped the city’s sprays, flutters by me on its bloody quest.
Silence, in the city’s sounds and in the heavy air stirring slowly through its streets.
Silence, in the humid heat that is shuttled and spun ‘round by a lazy ocean breeze-
A southern breeze that waltzes amongst old warehouses and antique shops
That runs amongst shrimp boat riggings and wooden piers and gabled roofs
and columned mansions-
and a thousand open verandahs!
Above it all floats a few wispy clouds, tendrils of gray life that strut across the darkness.
A sprinkling of stars sparkle against the velvet black sky and dirty cotton clouds
and rosy city glow.
A pine tree rears its spiny leaves, its sturdy posture a stalwart silhouette.
A couple strolls nearby, their shadows chasing each other across pools of light
While pulsating music spills from an open doorway and laughing sailors
emerge from a downtown bar.
Above it all sings a single chime-
The courthouse clock tall and regal and three hundred years old.
Still it chimes the hours, its cheerful notes cascading through the sultry air-
The sweet southern air that slowly, ever so slowly, lulls me into slumber.
As a child, the years dragged their feet like little old women,
Days were like years and each year a century.
For an epoch, or so it seemed, I grew and learned
In a small town like so many of us claim
As the place that bred us and reared us and sent us into the world.
But to me, that town of southern America grew staler and drabber.
As childhood passed away and freedom finally loomed.
With feet that stumbled over each other in anticipation
I raced from a place that to me had grown fetid-
Where nothing sparked my imagination or enflamed my soul.
More quickly the years passed as old women feet were replaced
With the measured tread of stately maidens.
I roamed through the world beneath glittering lights and shimmering towers,
Through lazily sprawling meadows and wildly dangerous heights.
Yet Truth I found on every twisted street and upswept hilltop
And he shouted to me—
“The good comes with the bad in every land and in every city.
Our past is what makes us each an individual—
Why we see beauty in different things,
Why we cannot escape the streets of the place that created us.”
As the years began to trip past
On the softly dancing feet of little girls
I looked back upon the place from whence I had come
And saw what I had forgotten.
In my southern hometown the sun rises in golden splendor
Above lanes draped and hung with flowering greenery,
Summer rain feels like wet passionate kisses
And the ocean, calm and lazy, lounges on sugary white sands.
In the South the streets are lined with gracious buildings
That blend together like the lilting accents and soft breezes,
Where one year merges into the next in palatable peace
Like an afternoon with grandma’s cookies and hot chocolate.
In those old streets and shadowed parks my strengths had been born
And they were the place to which I had returned in my mind,
Like a safe haven, a lover’s embrace,
Countless times without ever even knowing
From whence came my inspiration.
The south in summer
spread like a quilt
in tan and gold and green.
Fluffy cotton clouds
like lulling sheep
flit far below
then disappear into the
patchwork. The edges fade
into the sky and
fog-filled distance. The towns
strewn like jewels sprawl
in the white-hot heat,
stretching lazy tentacles
but mostly lounging against
the grays of muddied
rivers. The mighty Mississippi,
the roadway to the south,
winding its way
around oxbows and islands
and dams. It dwarfs the scene
even from 30,000 feet-
edging the quilt in a
Only the roadways
breaking up the perfect patches,
bending and whipping
through fields and forests.
the peaceful summer day
for thousands of miles
a patchwork quilt
trimmed by rivers and roads
and sweltering jewels.
Lisa Kendrick writes:
I was born and raised in Mississippi by a very traditional, Southern family. Certainly, the landscape of the Deep South, its traditions, and the adventures of my childhood leave their mark on every poem I write. I graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Communications and left my home state to seek adventure. Since that time, after a bit of trial and error, I decided upon a career in education. I am in my tenth year as a teacher and have taken enough additional college credits to have a minor in English, history and education in order to expand my teaching credentials. I have written poetry throughout my life and am also working on several novels. I reside in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I live with two dogs and my husband in a comfy cottage near the beach.
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