Wednesday, December 14, 2011


On the first day of August
the soft release of fragrance,
a crepe myrtle colored
like a fox grape's flesh
tasted the first light
ricocheting across Joe Knob.

Rising before the family,
the farm wife chunked
the fire in the Progress woodstove.
Wearing gloves of flour,
she pounded dough with
veins rolling across rough hands.

Fog swelled in the kitchen,
her hair wilted like bean vines.
She bore the burden
of a mountain wife without sigh.
There was always chores:
making a garden, keeping summer

in jars, shelved for winter tongues.
Tending to a large family,
cooking on the woodstove,
heating water for washing
on a scrub board, flat iron
set on the stove to heat.

Smelling of soap and onions,
hands dry as leatherbreeches,
fatigue was in her face,
hope left her eyes.
Ivy circled the kitchen wall,
crepe myrtle reflecting in the window.
--Brenda Kay Ledford

This poem appeared in SIMPLICITY, a collection of prose and poetry about Clay County, NC.
This is the Progress woodstove that many of our mountain women used to cook food.

The stove and above kitchen cabinet are displayed in the Clay County Historical and Arts Council "Old Jail" Museum at Hayesville, North Carolina in the Gertrude Price section of the building.

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