Henry County

by Alexis Draut

Goodness does not require softness.
Beauty does not demand attention.

Two hours in a wood-paneled kitchen 
he told me these things, sheep dogs lying 
underneath worn wooden chairs.

He said: announce your place,
never walk anywhere else.

I have walked many places but the one I claim,
I drove across land to this Kentucky farmhouse,
walked gravel driveway to a front door,
greeted Tanya picking flowers 
as cicadas strummed their legs together.

He told me to read Shakespeare,
go back to school, don’t fly on planes,
never use the word “environment” 
again for as long as I live.

Hands stained from years
of tobacco picking, the one crop
his state has no use for any longer

Skipping around the globe
has no use for those who say they care for her, 
and to go places just to say you’ve seen them
is never good enough.

Never feel shame 
in loving only one thing,
seeing the wonder in one 
allows you to find it in all.

The faster you learn this, Berry said
the sooner you will make a home
in one place and tend to it 
as the one lover of your life.


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