Having No Public

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

Cyril Connolly, English Literary Critic (1903–1974)

I do not write a great deal of poetry, but there are times when poetry, or my feeble attempt to write it, soothes my “savage soul.” And that is the genesis of the following poem, when not so many years ago, I found myself in a rather dark place, having lost my elderly mother. The poem is not ostensibly about loss but rather is about a legacy my parents left to me of a culture I will forever treasure. On Mother’s Day, 2015, a little over six months after my mother’s death, my husband and I trekked over to the annual Priddy Volunteer Fire Department fundraiser in Priddy, Texas. Every year on Mother’s Day the kind of people I’ve known all my life gather from every corner of our rural county for this celebratory luncheon. That jubilant fundraiser became a balm for my disquieted soul.

The Graveled Carpet

The talk is of rain
and stock tanks running around
and green grass and
hay made...or making
Deeply tanned, faced-lined
farmers and ranchers shake hands
and laugh.
A cool, rain-soaked 
breeze soothes the land.

Families draw into long, airy rows,
waiting for
pans piled high with catfish, chicken,
cold slaw and beans.
At this spring's community fundraiser,
this rural gala,
the salt of the earth walk
a graveled carpet.

They, true stewards of God's
creation, do not arrive
in Oscar de la Renta
fresh from Rodeo Drive, but
from churches where they
thanked God for the rain
and for steady neighbors who
endure hardship and abundance
just the same.

They step with grace and class.
They move with honor and

Brenda Ethridge Ferguson

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