American Life in Poetry: Column 129


North Carolina poet, Betty Adcock, has written scores of
beautiful poems, almost all of them too long for this space.
Here is an example of her shorter work, the telling
description of a run-down border town.

Louisiana Line

The wooden scent of wagons,
the sweat of animals--these places
keep everything--breath of the cotton gin,
black damp floors of the icehouse.

Shadows the color of a mirror's back
break across faces. The luck
is always bad. This light is brittle,
old pale hair kept in a letter.
The wheeze of porch swings and lopped gates
seeps from new mortar.

Wind from an axe that struck wood
a hundred years ago
lifts the thin flags of the town.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry
Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry
magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English
at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 1975
by Betty Adcock. Reprinted from "Walking Out," Louisiana
State University Press, 1975, with permission of Betty Adcock,
whose most recent book is "Intervale: New and Selected Poems,"
Louisiana State University Press, 2001. Introduction copyright (c)
2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted
Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in
Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not
accept unsolicited manuscripts.