Discount Tobacco, Cold Beer Cave

Samuel Ellington

And the barn on my left reads get right
with God. There’s a gravel-road token that
we can make home. Cut grass,
gasoline, and I laughed when they told me
the Lord is three persons—even a half-right
fool could do that. I am four persons, a
million persons. I’m every gay kid to go without
love, every Piedmont small high school with
prospects. I am every person
who ever took ham out a can and
cut it with collards from out back, who
brought you a beer from a meringue-colored
icebox and said hell it ain’t much but it’s ours, 
and the sofa’s a hand-me-down, but it doesn’t
show wear, show where I laid-you-down,
chest hair and a feeling like suddenly
I belong to this life, like
maybe tomorrow we walk into town, where there’s
diesel ‘round five-ought and spit
cherry pits, and mons pubis is Latin,
but if it were French, it would mean something more
like my pubes—how they slickened
with an oh-so-sickening feeling like
suddenly I belong to this life.

There’s a tobacco-road backcove, where the
fishing gets ripe around six; we sip
RC Cola when the sun yawns too wide
at the white church on Chestnut where you got baptized. I’ll
buy you a dog with the cash that’s left over
from clothing the kids and the checks that we send
to your mother. Ain’t much, but it’s
all that she needs to survive.

And our yard, it slopes down to a mayapple grove, where
ground bees make holes in the clay that silts red in
July. When I say it’s a life, I mean something more
like that hand-me-down couch, where I wake every
morning, my hand on your chest; in my
head’s an unshakeable feeling, like
this is my body; I belong to this life.

Samuel Ellington is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying mathematics. He recently started playing the banjo. Samuel’s writing centers around the small textures and memories that have made up his life. He is very grateful to all who read his work.

Artwork: “Volcanic Pipeline” by Katy Stewart

Collage on paper

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