C. B. Anderson: “Some Dark Hollow”

Some Dark Hollow

He sips some tepid water from a jug
That once had held the product from a still
His neighbor on the north side of the hill
Kept hidden in the briars. When corn lay snug
Inside the crib, the two would often drain
A demijohn to help subdue their pain.

He wets his whistle, keeps his powder dry,
And watches out for movement in the brush
Below the blind, yet nothing but the hush
Of forest underneath an autumn sky
Has ever crept to where he hides, alert,
His knees and elbows lodged in native dirt.

He had a woman once, but she slipped out
One night (when he was drunk) and made it to
Another county, someplace where she knew
He’d never find her. Let there be no doubt,
It’s quite the pretty price she’ll have to pay
If he should track her down some sober day.

(His father’d been a drinking man as well—
A circuit rider dressed in black—whose druthers
Had less to do with God than making mothers
Of simple girls: He used the fear of Hell
To help them find the Way, and trusting him,
They soon sufficed his lust for wayward quim.)

He lays the rifle down and rolls a smoke
Wrapped in a dried-out shuck from this year’s crop
Of corn. His mind is stuck on what to swap
For bullets and tobacco—tamer folk
All scorn the goods his fitful efforts wrest:
His destiny’s forlorn and manifest.