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

, 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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