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August 14, 2007

The Dowser

I tore three pages
from the middle of March’s
Our State.
He was there: grey newsboy cap, down over
a fat, pink worm of a pouting
lower lip.
Born in 1920,
the dowser—water witch—
carried the sir name Scarlett
to Orange County.

He holds the hard kernel stick
loosely between his talk of God
and sparrows.
Before “Arthur Wrightus” he could
say how far down
the water is.
Now, he can only say where
to dig the well,
with a dogwood, hickory, maple,
peach or wild cherry switch,
a black leather hand and pink palm.
I can hear him when he says
he’s tar heel people.

The Corner of Cherry Street and Main in Marion

He says they are purple martins
dipping in and out of gourds
on the lawn edge, where we
found a rat snake at the cellar-mouth,
rotting pecans in greenest grass,
the wind chimes, and two
strawberry shortcake tricycles in the shed.

There is the flat-topped tin
carport, the out-of-place gym bar,
the out-of-use clothesline,
the well-kept hedge backing up
to a grass alley, two dirt
tracks beaten in by years
of yellow cars.

There are my grandmother’s pickling
jars, and the bird bath near the gourds,
and the foam always at the edge,
and the sweet gum balls
we pretended were spiny cherries
or small planets, suspended
around the stump that is always home plate.

There are the blue glass bottles
aligned at the kitchen window,
and the woman who adopted this house
and all of us, stands elbow-deep
in soap and water, by the thin-crusted
pie on the cooling rack.

Bathroom in the Isle of Palms Beach House

The place
where Moma stands,
naked back and ashen hair,
to Aunt Izzy.

And speaks of her children’s births
as personality indicators:
how he
didn’t breathe
and how, instead, she screamed:
swinging, red, and angry.

Talk of who has died,
while she’s slipping green straps up,
one petite hand to shoulder
at a time.

And from the doorway,
the mirror revealed to me only
the blue spackled sky.

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