The Back Wood Road

The heat is rising from the road in thick curtains of steam

Radiating from the back of my sticky neck pouring sweat

Spilling onto my seersucker shirt as I walk slowly down

The back wood road that leads to the old man’s pond

Snapping the bubbles of hot tar beneath my sneakers

It’s well worth the lump in my throat and prickles on my skin

As I contemplate that man without legs who grows the popcorn

That man I fear who lost his legs in the Korean War

I am certain one could cook a full meal on this hot pavement

As I consider the coolness in the middle of that deep pond

The pond that contains so many things that frighten me

Betwixt the cattails the refuse of ducks and all that slithers

And so I divert my attention to those glorious tar bubbles

Those bubbles that will leave remnants of jet black goo

Tar that will lead me into the realms of my Nannie’s rage

And so I face the depths of the pond and of her anger

Snap snap snap

Oh damn the fury of the summer sun that takes away all logic

Here I stand with spindly legs and skinned knees before the man

Oh that man upon his crutches who ventured out his screen door

The man who lost both of his legs in that god forsaken war

Staring down at little me wondering why the hell I’m here

And so I brave the muck and mire at the edge of that old pond

I jump as far as I can jump and oh what I land in is so disgusting

With breath held tight I swim and swim until at last I’ve ventured

Beyond the muck where all is clear and cool far out into the center

Who cares if I feel something wriggling up my little nose

Who minds if I feel something nibbling on my tiny toes

They couldn’t be as large as me I kick and scream and giggle

Yet the fear of that bottomless pit is in the back of my mind

Who would find me and who on earth would come to my rescue

After all I was over a mile away from the nearest farmhouse

And how on earth would a legless man ever pull me from here

I had a time getting into the center of the pond behind nowhere

The sun was sinking low in the sky and after I’d climbed out

The old man met me near his field of popcorn with a bag in his hand

I was so frightened to take it as he offered it for Nannie and I

Perhaps she’d accept it as a peace offering with regard to my shoes

Oh good the tar bubbles are still hot on the road to Grandmother’s

Snap snap snap

I love tar bubbles

Break out the turpentine

By the time I’m halfway home I’m just as hot as I was when I began

And the hot tar snaps beneath my feet

Almost there

Snap snap snap


©Kay Salady


About Kay Salady

I write about the greatest force on earth that, I believe, lives on forever and surpasses all else. "All your poems read like I am watching an artist use words instead of colours full of feeling." ~Anon.

Posted on April 16, 2012, in poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Makes me not look forward to summer. Glad the graphic has her with her feet in cool water! Looks like Gaugain’s style, but who is the painter?


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