Steppingstone

Andrew Hudgins

 
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.

Poems by This Author

Blur by Andrew Hudgins
Storms of perfume lift from honeysuckle,
Day Job and Night Job by Andrew Hudgins
After my night job, I sat in class
In by Andrew Hudgins
When we first heard from blocks away


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