Home (from Court Square Fountain— where affluent ghosts still importune a taciturn slave to entertain them with a slow barbarous tune in his auctioned baritone— to Hank Williams' headstone atop a skeleton loose in a pristine white suit and bearing a pristine white bible, to the black bloodstain on Martin King's torn white shirt and Jim Clark's baton, which smashed black skulls to gelatin) was home, at fifteen: brimstone on Sunday morning, badminton hot afternoons, and brimstone again that night. Often, as the preacher flailed the lectern, the free grace I couldn't sustain past lunch led to clandestine speculation. Skeleton and flesh, bone and protein hold—or is it detain?— my soul. Was my hometown Montgomery's molten sunlight or the internal nocturne of my unformed soul? Was I torn from time or was time torn from me? Turn on byzantine turn, I entertain possibilities still, and overturn most. It's routine now to call a hometown a steppingstone— and a greased, uncertain, aleatory stone at that. Metaphors attune our ears to steppingstone, as well a corner-, grind-, and millstone— all obtain and all also cartoon history, which like a piston, struck hard and often that blood-dappled town scrubbed with the acetone of American inattention. Atone me no atoning. We know the tune and as we sing it, we attain a slow, wanton, and puritan grace, grace can't contain.
Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Hudgins. Used by permission of the author.
Andrew Hudgins was born in Killeen, Texas, in 1951 and educated at Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama.
Date Published: 2010-10-15
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/steppingstone