“A Louisiana Story” By James Miller

She was one of five Bossier Parish
daughters. But what was her name?

Her husband was Willie Fitz, we know that
as surely as biscuits rise and grits gruel.

Keep those biscuits warm—she’ll sop
them later on, with mayhaw muck.

We’re waiting in the woods, piney dark
smeared on moonless palms. Wipe black

and yellow webs from your faces. Watch:
she’s rutting with her paramour, barked

on shoulders and shins, earlobes still young
enough to tingle in his teeth. Here’s Willie,

trudging through the murk to sear their boxers
and belts, calling—what else? Her name.

In the movie, the lover loses a shoe, scrams
whimpering all the way through the ’30s,

breathes through his nose so as not to retch
at the paper mill, till it closes and he moves

to Shreveport, near the hospitals and Friday fish.
But in our story, Willie Fitz has scooped up

her slip and sweated unmentionables, tossed them
in the back seat. And the image we love

to revisit when we go visiting in Plain Dealing,
bearing tiny boxes of la-di-da European chocolates,

thick books of crosswords for cousins or uncles—
somehow they’re both, or neither?  Here she is,

on the road (paved yet? we never thought to ask),
at one AM, barefoot. Willie Fitz follows in the car,

headlights skewering her bare buttocks, but not
the pinpricked arms crossed over her breasts. Distances knew

their distance, in those days—didn’t they? Count up
the crusty minutes to the front porch.

The breakfast still has to find its way. And here—
thanks—we’ll take those biscuits back,

heap them on a plate. No gravy this morning,
nor cotton’s chary kindness.

How many babies came later? How many
spiders in her hair, on anniversary nights?

There were four other sisters, remember.
No one recalls much about them, sorry

to say. One moved to Dallas and had something
to do with science. The others, no doubt,

thanked their Tarots no stories sprouted round
their shrubby toes. Sang Thou Hidden Source

of Calm Repose, shared photos of the grand-
kids when the organ, finally, shut itself up.

James Miller is a native of Houston, Texas, though he has spent time in the American Midwest, Europe, China, South America and India.  He has published poetry in Riversedge, the Houston Poetry Fest 2016, Sweet Tree Review, Lullwater Review, Cold Mountain Review (forthcoming), Boston Accent (forthcoming), and Plainsongs (forthcoming).

One thought on ““A Louisiana Story” By James Miller

  1. Wow! I think you are one of my Louisiana cousins. This captured some feeling that haunts my mind with vague memories or is it just your writing that blossoms into reality in my mind? Is this historic? Am I one of her babies in my 75th year? I do love warm biscuits, though.


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