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Sanders, Kay / That red dirt road
(2010)

Embers,   pp. 15-16


Page 15

Embers
Mid-March, and already the mill is hot,
clack of machinery a constant roar,
sweat glands pumping overtime
to cool the heated blood of first-shift hands
waiting for release by the two o'clock whistle.
Aunt Lillie trudges out the gate,
empty lunch sack clutched in hand,
bits of cotton clinging to her hair like ashes,
faded work dress cinched at the waist,
belt appearing, disappearing,
between bellows of bosom and stomach,
a softness belied by sternum and pelvic bone.
Late spring, the family comes together
for Reunion Day. The uncles play cards
behind muscadine vines while we children
follow the aunts through the graveyard,
their funeral parlor fans stirring
the air's warm breath as Aunt Lillie tells
the stories that resurrect the dead.
Dressed in her best black crepe,
traces of the mill combed from her hair,
the flecks her own true grey,
she loosens her belt, opens her purse,
extracts a bottle of stomach pills.
Give me a sip of that Co-Cola, Sugar,
and hold this pocketbook, ifyou will.
15


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