moss-laden oaks loom | 1950s in the Deep South
I posted this poem in 2014. It’s an attempt to capture my first impressions of the Deep South, including strict segregation between Black and White citizens. There were 5 of us in the car (Sister #4 yet to be conceived). We’d just driven from Southern California to rural Georgia, 15 miles outside of Savannah. Another world. One I’d never imagined in my 7 1/2 years of life.
moss-laden oaks loom
magenta azaleas blaze
deep south path through woods
* * *
Late summer, 1950
It’s past midnight
I’m asleep with Sisters #2 and #3
Are we almost there?
Mother’s tired voice wakes me up
Nothing but darkness outside
and cobwebby stuff hanging from tree limbs
A log-cabin tavern fades into view
Neon beer ads flicker on parked cars, old trucks
Daddy reluctantly stops for directions
He goes into the tavern.
Are we lost?
No. We just aren’t there yet.
Daddy drives slowly
No street lights no signs
The old road is dark, narrow, mysterious
Mossy oaks loom overhead reflecting
weak rays of yellow light from car headlights
Weary shacks line the road
Unexpectedly we pass grand fenced-in wooded lots with driveways to nowhere
Then modest houses and a few larger houses
The road ends abruptly.
Daddy stops, gets out, peers at the giant mailbox
He turns into the driveway
moss-laden oaks, no blazing azaleas
Just heavy humid air, wealth next door to poverty, fiercely guarded secrets
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 March 2014, reposted with intro14 July 2020
Google image – Springtime in Savannah, Georgia