Conversation in the Car on the Way to the Cemetery

A Poem by Kimberly A. Bolton

Well, it was a right nice service
she had, wasn’t it?
All over but the buryin’ now,
I reckon.
It was good to see all the
homefolk in one place agin,
wouldna been the same without ‘em,
an’ that’s a fact.
I dun tol you didn’t I, Corrie May was
a right smart woman, an’ tough too;
had to be,
whatever she was gonna make-a
herself an’ them kids,
it was all up to her anyhow.
Harry wasn’t no help to her,
an’ James, he was always up to
no good, drinkin’ an’ gamblin’.
Why shoot, ol’ Harry, he didn’t waste
no time gittin’ Corrie May in the family way
an’ on the first try, too.
Seems like Corrie May said to me
this here one time, said, she knew
ever’ time Harry’s overalls hit the floor
beside the bed of a night, she knew
she’d be pregnant.
Wasn’t too far from the truth, neither,
as I recollect.
Raised a bunch-a turkeys that year she
was carryin’ her firstborn just so’s she
could sell ‘em an’ buy herself a
rocker to rock that baby to sleep of
a night.
Yup, the very same rocker she was in
that night last March when she tol’
us all the story of the day they’d come
home from church an’ found Harry dead in
the back room-a the house.
That was the first stick-a furniture
she an’ Harry every owned outright, no thanks
to Harry,
an’ course, when the baby was born,
Harry was out in the field that day;
Doc had to go out lookin’ fer him
Just to tell him he had a son what was borned
an’ he ought to get hisself back to the house
to see after his wife an’ baby.
But ol Harry he wouldn’t budge from
that field fer love ner money.
Stayed out there til the day’s work was done.
Harry, he didn’ have a clue to what all
us women went through to have a baby er
what men called women’s work back in
those days. James neither, fer that matter.
Corrie May, she had her own garden an’
canned all she could when it come time.
Made her own lye soap, too, like most
ever other woman in those parts.
We used lye soap to warsh all kinds of things,
hair, clothes, scrubbed our skins raw in the tub
with a bar of it ever Saturdee night by the
Corrie May, she pitched right in to help
the neighbors at butcherin’ time an’
cooked up those big thrashin’ dinners.
She wasn’t afraid-a hard work an’
that’s a fact.
Saw that youngun through the measles
an’ pneumonia an’ the polio;
saw them three boys of her’n off to the war.
Went through more’n what one woman should
have to in a lifetime, I reckon.

This here one time, they was two men
what had been up in the hills a-drinkin’
white lightnin’ an’ they stopped right out
at Corrie May’s front gate, talkin’ long
an’ loud, actin’ up an’ a-braggin’ ‘bout
how’s they gonna come on inside the house.
It was after dark a’ready an’ Corrie May,
She didn’ know ‘em from Adam.
It ware just her and Norma Jean in the house.
Harry was long dead by that time an’ the boys
all growed an’ gone, hadn’t met James yet.
Well, like I said, she heard ‘em out by the gate
an’ she figured if’n they was gonna git in
her house, it’d be over her dead body.
Tol’ Norma Jean to stay put,
went in the back room an’ got the shotgun,
walked out the door to meet ‘em.
Now I didn’t even know Corrie May
knew how to shoot,
ya coulda knocked me over
with a feather when she tol’
us all ‘bout it later;
but she pointed that gun straight at
their feet to let ‘em know she meant
Corrie May, she says to me after,
said she knew what she was a-doin’.
She’d had three older brothers what’d
taught her to shoot.
Said the men skedaddled an’ never
bothered ‘em agin after that.
Ain’t nothin’ scares a man more’n
a woman with a shotgun, determined
to protect her own, an’ that’s a fact.

1 thought on “Conversation in the Car on the Way to the Cemetery

  1. Pingback: The Kimberly A. Bolton Series of Poems | Our Day's Encounter

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