for Ellen Gilchrist,

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for Ellen Gilchrist,
Who Doesn’t Know Me from Adam

Got plenty of her books
unread in my library, but she’s

Southern, and I am too, so
I own them for when-

ever the time comes, which for one—
Falling Through Space

came today. Autobiographical
essays, with pictures. So, of course,

I viewed the pictures first:
grandmothers so great, they’re Victorian,

Mississippi plantations, horses
for riding, a mother voted Most Popular

Girl
, Ole Miss, 1927, people dressed
in nice clothes sitting in a nice

car. So, I disliked her for all
that, for my folks who went unphotographed,

who went—simply—back to dirt,
who rode mules, who were voted Most Popular

in Credit Ledgers at the Feed Store
,
who never had four names, like

Louise Winchester Clark Gilchrist,
and really needed only one,

just to mark a place for want
and bones. But, alas, the meanness of it

did me in as I flipped to the last page
where Gilchrist describes us all

as true-to-a-place, hot-and-heavy,
rough-children writers. And, then, I didn’t

mind her so much, and almost liked her, and knew
something of what ran in her veins.

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