The Back Roads of Georgia

Day 64 of 100 Happy Days

We all got in the car

-the kids and I;

he was in Baltimore to see the baby.

We left Florida after 8,

past painted signs calling out summertime peaches, and

the boys pointed out a beaver dam built up in a swamp outside of Folkston, right there,

right next to the road.

Tufts of cotton caught in roadside grasses blown loose from harvested fields looked like snow.

After Tifton-

purple acres of cabbages and then-

the kids favorite-

rows of what looked like tiny trees, a miniature forest, that

turned out to be broccoli.

“Albany is halfway” Erin said.

Pecan plantations, groves of women-

nut trees always look feminine to me, strong

torsos with arms reaching, ballet positions,

fingers extending the line of the wrist,

thighs strong enough to stand steady while bearing down a birth roar.

It’s hilly here.

Pie spice colors: cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon.

The towns have glitter garland holiday swirls over the streets.

Turned around, wrong turn, right turn into

farmland, green fields framed by wooded windbreaks.

Starling murmurations, pulsing clouds of birds

sweeping against the blueness of this autumn sky.

The border town, southern gothic, hanging moss and

enormous porches. Tree lined avenues with manners, even just passing by.


is not meant for making great time, this trip

was for taking the time that it takes.


Day 64 of 100 Happy Days

Day 64 of 100 Happy Days

The Tuesday Before Thanksgiving


draft- Tia Levings, 2015


That room was a mess.

So full of broken furniture that I couldn’t see the floor, with

no pathway to walk.

Tchotchkies, curios, knick knacks, dust beams vaguely illumined by sun,

no hope of ever crossing the room,  of cleaning the window

pane on the far side, no

muslin curtains filtering lemony summer light, no

jar of daisies to draw the eye away from dandered  cobweb corners.

I may have forgotten to tell you-

there was no way to do that.

The remarkable thing was-

when I finally showed her, was that she only said,

“There’s a lot here. Tell me about this bench.”

The piece nearest her, nearest the door, and

it startled me.

I couldn’t tell if she teased…. or,

maybe this one preferred to wait like an oily cat, slice

with the precision of shame. Only-

“tell me the significance of this bench.”

She didn’t call it a pew.

To focus on just one thing settled a sigh, trust

breathing a cool morning mist over a fevered pond, and

I could see plain the first time

he crammed it into the room, or-

maybe the room crammed around it-

until cat feces piled in hidden places, and

spider tents draped the spindles, and

magazines curled with dark mildew, and

crates of bottles came marked, “Poison. Do not eat.”

But sometimes I did, and

sometimes I served them for dinner, and

saved the vomit in boxes for later.

This bench, now that I look at it-

smeared grime waxed into the grain,

lacerations sharp with slivers, ready

to pierce the soft flesh of my thigh, its

scarred veneer-

this bench is not useful to me anymore.

I don’t need it, and

that’s how we started. She

didn’t tease and didn’t shame and

never left my side.

She held my hand, we’ve

cleared the room. Dropped-

all of it over a cliff I think. Just-

let it fall off the truck,

behind me now.

It’s been 12 weeks, but

I can see the floor.

St John's River  from Mandarin Pointe

St John’s River from Mandarin Pointe

The Second Day of Thanksgiving Week


Leftover Apple Dumplings, it turns out,

make a good breakfast. Heated warm

cinnamon caramel sauce melting in hot tea, melting

in my mouth,

pomegranate tang.


My scratch crust, it turns out,

came out perfection. Salted

crisp flakes holding crunchy exoskeleton, hug

pillowed soft apple flesh,

Pink Lady tart.


Four of my children, it turns out,

enormous newborn adults, all

long bodied loud laughter petitions, sighs

“life’s exhausting,

Mama Pie.”


Hot Apple Dumpling Night


The First Morning of Thanksgiving Week

Reflections on water migrate, I think


even if the light is constant.

Silver patches broken only by the breeze, by


the snake bird; slender neck’s reaching strokes.

My skin, bare shoulders, feels


loose wild hair ideas brought me here.

On the far shore I see, a


something was breakfast.

A long distance, a chainsaw


the tree for communion.


November on the pond.