The Archibald Rutledge Prize
Lost and Found
I didn’t know about those other Annes
until I found your letter in the attic,
those who spelled their names with an E.
I dropped the E when I was twenty-one,
you see—more modern, more upbeat.
Didn’t know about the other Thomases,
the Marions, the Josiahs, the John
who came over as an indentured servant,
cut off the ear of another farm hand
in the Commonwealth of Virginia and fled south
looking for somebody else to beat up. John
who saw rocks hard like him, grew fond
of red clay in the blistering heat,
looked down at the rolling Carolina hills,
said, This is it.
My old aunt who still lives here
says you planted all those walnut trees
when, at fourteen, you were full of
piss and vinegar. Like that first John,
I guess. I can almost see you, Grandfather,
digging in the red clay, lifting rock
all day, standing on the porch at sunset.
I half expect you to tell me, come,
listen to the call of the whip-poor-will,
say, This is it.