Sweet Jesus, I miss that lazy drawl
all whiskey & honeyburning sweet in my ear.
how my thighsquakedwhen his jacked-up Ford F-150
rumbled upbeside me at the 4-way stop,
chrome grillsplatteredwith wet dirt
from afternoonsspent muddin’down at the sinkholes,
smelling likecigarette smoke& sweat& fresh-mowed grass.
Florida held the door for meat the Citgo,
hands all grease & tobacco stained,
dirt under his fingernails.
If I could just see Florida again,
I swear I’d stop at every roadside stand with
HOT BOILED P-NUTS
spray-painted on plywood,
just so he could ladle a Styrofoam cup full for me.
This is Saturday in the South—
sleeves rolled-uphunched overa popped hood or
I remember how Florida cut donuts in the grass
when the summer storms
turned Wakulla County into a
How we got sunburnt in the woodslooking for bullfrogs& rat
then came home & stripped off our clothes,
looking for tickslike a weird, woodsy
I miss my Florida momma, who taught meto fry catfish
with the spine still intact,
who showed me the secret
of making big, fluffy cathead biscuits& how
proud she was
when my sun tea turned out just right.
Florida calls me ma’am,
calls me darlin’,
calls me Sweet Pea,depending on how well he
Florida took me & a machete out in the backyard
to sort through the scrap wood
& showed me how to build
taught me how to spot fat lighter,
the best wood of all,
because it burns bright & hot & glittery when it’s on the
& how Saturday night bonfires give people with
a little something to hold onto.
In Florida, I sat shotgun as the tip of his boot
pressedcloser & closerto the floorboard,
hurtling down curved backroads
where highway patrol don’t bother to run radar.
For 5 minutes, 12 seconds,
all that matters is the storm of electric guitar,
Free Bird raining sideways from the speakers,
lost in the wind,
& how it stung like yellow
as I skittered my
over the air,
like it was made of
I confess it:
I left the arms of the South& pushed West,
where they hear my drawl& shake their
& though I’m surrounded
by a cold ocean & unyielding mountains,
I long for sunshine & sweat,
the only home I’ve ever been sick for.
sometimes I swear I can hear Florida
with that lazy drawl
that burns like whiskey
& soothes like honey,
whisper to me:
we’ll always set a place for you at the table.