|As the sun sets and shadows fall,|
she walks in purple dusk...
I was very curious when I was a child, always asking questions:
"Why does Mr. Bill walk everywhere?"
"He doesn't drive," Maw Maw Wilson said, "Never has."
"Why did Mr. Riley just stand there and not say a word when Brother Crider told him to give the closing prayer?"
"He's always been backward."
Although Maw Maw's answers didn't contain much detail, I was satisfied. They made sense.
What didn't make sense were the answers I got when I asked why everyone in the neighborhood got so upset when Lily Worthington's husband took her to Memphis every now and then. They discussed it relentlessly, shaking their heads, voices down to murmurs, pained looks on their faces.
"She has spells sometimes," Maw Maw explained, "And makes a lot of cakes."
Mother's answer was a little more detailed; she said Lily had problems, which caused her to stay up all night, making cakes.
But I didn't understand that. Mother and my grandmothers made cakes; every woman I knew made cakes. Even I made cakes. We made them during the day, of course, but what was wrong with making them at night? And why did Lily's husband have to take her to Memphis because she made cakes?
That is why, after all these years, I wrote "The Poem." Although the idea for the story came from Lily, it is purely a work of fiction.
"The Poem" was accepted by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. You can find it here.