Fat Southern men in their summer suits, Usually with suspenders, love to sweat Into and even through their coats, Taking it as a matter of honor to do so, Especially when the humidity gets as close As it does each Southern summer. Some think men could do better By just going ahead and taking the damned Coats off, but the summer code stays Because summer is the time For many men, no matter what their class, To be Southern Gentlemen by keeping Those coats on. So late in life here I am Down here again, having run to fat (As Southern men tend), visiting the farm Where my grandfather deposited So much of his own working sweat, Where Granddaddy never bought into any Of "that Southern Gentleman crap." Up north where I landed in the urban Middle class I am seldom caught Not wearing a coat of some kind. I love The coats, and though I love them most In the fall I still enact the summer code, I suppose, because my father and I did buy That code, even though I organized students To strike down any dress code whatsoever In the high school I attended (it was a matter Of honor). And it still puts me in good humor To abide with the many pockets, including One for a flask. So whether it's New York, Vermont, or Virginia, the spectacle Of the summer seersucker proceeds, Suspenders and all, and I lean into the sweat (Right down to where the weather really is) Until it has entirely soaked through my jacket.
From The Executive Director of the Fallen World by Liam Rector, published by the University of Chicago Press. Copyright © 2006 by Liam Rector. Reprinted by permission of the University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.