Red Bluff, 2020

by Jo Taylor

It was a bizarre place to share
a Thanksgiving meal – off the old Red Bluff Road,
past the little red-brick church atop the hill, then down
the dirt path along the barbed-wire fence, over which
lay discarded artificial roses and broken pots and dreams.

                                                                     In silence,
we arranged poinsettias on the pebbles enclosed
in granite coping, careful not to disturb the peace,
and arranged our chairs to ward off November winds
moving across the open field like an ostrich on the
savanna. Hungry from early-morning preparations
and the several-hundred-miles to get to this sacred spot,
we spread across the tailgate the tubs of fried chicken,
the mayonnaise-slathered pineapple sandwiches,
the paprika-dotted deviled eggs, and then added potato
pies and pecan pies, golden in mid-day sun.

We spoke of COVID, the election, our forebearers resting
at our feet. We acknowledged our year’s shortcomings
to the pines, the spirits and each other, and vowed life
changes that would grow legacies left latent heretofore
in this boneyard. We offered up poems and gave gifts
and strolled amongst the dead, calling out names
and speculating on lives edited in etchings and epitaphs,
markings and dates.

Then we gathered our things and held there
                                                        another minute,
glancing one more time at the hallowed ground,
the dust to which we will soon return, the dirt
that will house our own bones.

Jo Taylor is a retired, 35-year English teacher from Georgia. Her favorite genre to teach high school students was poetry, and today she dedicates more time to writing it, her major themes focused on family, place, and faith. She says she writes to give testimony to the past and to her heritage. She has been published in The Ekphrastic ReviewSilver Birch Press, Poets Online, Literary North, Heart of Flesh Literary JournalOne Art, and Snapdragon:  A Journal of Art and Healing. Sally Lelong is a visual storyteller working in a variety of media that lend themselves to use in a conceptual framework. She lives and works in New York, and routinely exhibits her work in a variety of settings from print to thematic installations to street art.