How like a phonograph's groovethe whorls in these pews and walls,and because wood absorbs soundit is easy to believethat every voice that everraised song or prayer in this churchsurvives in the oak, ingrainedlike trunk rings that ripple outfrom some long-back beginning.
SOAPSTONEA stone as soft as its name,so soft an ax or saw couldfree slabs for chimney or hearth,though used not just for living,chiseled by kin or neighbor,then raised in mountain graveyardsto give new dead a last name,and while overshadowed nowby granite and marble, stillfound in those graveyards, the stoneswhittled down by wind and rain,lichen-flaked, letters erased,although you know where names were—the side faced east, placed that wayso the dead would some dawn waketo a risen son who wouldneed no stones to know their names.
THE CUREWhat secret beyond right measureof salt and brown sugar? His neighborbelieved it was how he butcheredunder full moons, though others venturedthe woodshed— odor of cedar and oaksteeping pork slabs dangled from rope,the way streaked dark seemed best to holda brighter flavor. No one would knowuntil years later his widowed wifefound tucked back on a springhouse shelfone dust-soaked mason jar, insidea clear thickening like some late Julyripple of midday heat-haze distilled,spread over winter's meat-hoard to sealand cure, scratched on the paraffinChestnut Blossom 1927Ron Rash