Barbara Young – “Rough as a Cob” – A Poem

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and still have my cradle roll certificate from the First Baptist Church. I have chased hens off nests in blackberry rows, and used two-holer–winter and summer. I am, however, left-justified to an extreme and if attacked, apt to become passive-aggressive.

Rough as a Cob

The twister rolled on.
It was old and mean, salty,
swearing cigarette butts and spitting out sidewalks.
It grew up hurricane wild, on twice distilled gulf mist
and the evaporations of a thousand rural meth labs.
Early on, its sippy cup was surf foam, heat,
the chaff of wild oats, sea gull down;
but it graduated to slurping: tidal pools, fish, crabs,
fishermen dozing over their red and white bobbers,
pireaux, skeedoos, pontoon party boats complete with box wine coolers
and kegs of coors, barnacle-embroidered tugs
and the barges they were pushing.

When it decided to head north,
it ripped the roof off an old Monte Carlo,
and drove that convertible into Tuscaloosa like a bat out of hell,
tossing back beef jerky and dr peppers,
and littering the highway with burger king sacks,
fried peach pies, family albums, and bad checks,
and leaving house parts in rows like seaweed at low tide.

When it finally petered out, its steam superceded by
cool condensation, it released three giant water slides,
the intact brick chimney from a tiny riverbank fish camp,
and a Bedazzler-studded denim suit, size 22 Women’s Petite.
A snowbird from Ontario it had picked up at a peanut shack
breathes deeply, and says thank you for the ride,
but the sky is clearing blue and the twister, gone.