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Southern Anomalies
Jan Epton Seale


Waxahachie, and my father has driven me
south across the viaduct to the little café
closed on Sunday, so we wait out front.

I know what kind of day it will be,
traveling home to the Valley by bus.
There will be spots of red along the way
because my mind will need them
against the boredom: brick lining an old well,
leaves of sumac, a mailbox flag,
a red-winged blackbird riding sorghum.
There will be stern federal-style homesteads
against the sky, and trailer-houses
with dogs on couches in yards, as well as
ruffled lone birds on fence posts, calves
in muddy pens. Then I’ll notice a blue bicycle
in front of a post office. On farther south will be
Pickens Auto Ranch and Merle’s Front End Service.
At dusk, after Austin, San Antonio, and finally,
Alice, ("just twenty minutes, folks") we will enter
the Valley, and pity the northbound line at the checkpoint.

But now my father and I are small-talking,
to take up the ache starting already in our hearts.
The fairy-tale courthouse clock strikes,
and we go silent in mid-sentence, as if
counting to eight is important …

Suddenly the bus bounds in. My ticket is made.
My dad and I do a careful public hug.
Then he says to me, an adult woman—
"This gentleman will take good care of you,"
and gestures to the driver he’s never seen.

This poem first appeared in theTexas Poetry Calendar 2009.
Used here with the author’s permission.


Jan Epton Seale was the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate. She is the author of nine volumes of poetry, two books of short fiction, three volumes of nonfiction, and nine children's books. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing, Jan taught English and creative writing at the university level for many years and now teaches memoir and creative writing workshops. Mother of three sons and grandmother of four grandsons, Jan lives in South Texas, where she volunteers at a local environmental center. Learn more about her at




Post New Comment:
The double-edgedness of a time-passed chivalry strikes this 'adult woman' directly. Strong poem.
Posted 06/10/2012 12:41 PM
Ralph Murre:
Since you are already a poet laureate, you don't need me to say "wow". But, wow.
Posted 06/10/2012 12:18 PM
Brilliant irony in the two final lines.
Posted 06/10/2012 10:44 AM
I love this. I enjoy the specificity of word and image. It lets us in just enough to understand just enough while knowing there is so much more there too.
Posted 06/10/2012 09:26 AM

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