Ann Fox Chandonnet, Circle of Stones

Ann Fox Chandonnet
CIRCLE OF STONES

Mules and hens settle.
Too dark now for chores,
and everyone drifts to his circle of stones.
Even the spider pauses in her weaving.
Leaves spiral down,
but the oaks will hold tight their crop
until The Big Times—
when top-hatted goblin hands out coppers
in the quarter.
Most ever thin goes in the firelight:
Brer Fox capers in riding boots that gleam
with reflected firelight.
Miz Possum shucks roasting ears,
passing them over her shoulder
to her young’uns.
Ghosts and buried gold,
good harvests and ham gravy—
any story, no matter how far-fetched.

A bucket of cool water circles,
drinking gourd tied to the bail.
Sissy hands out cold corn cakes
smeared with the grace of grease.

The oldest hand hears lions
prowling the cane next the river.
Bare toes sift cooled ash into red dirt.
In the mossy dark, urgency dissolves,
tired backs relax.
Melancholy slips into the shadows
like a cat homing in on a mouse.
Anything goes around this hearth–
any tale to hold off another morning.

Author’s Comment: “Circle of Stones” was inspired by seeing a row of slave houses at a rice plantation in South Carolina. In front of one “cabin” was a circle of stones, the remnant of a fire kindled in the open.
Bio: Ann Chandonnet is a poet, nonfiction writer and food historian. She spent 34 years in Alaska and has now retired to Vale, North Carolina. In fall she plants tulips and picks up thousands of horse chestnuts.

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