Brunswick Stew

Lorri Barrier is a teacher at Stanly Community College in Albemarle NC. She is married, has 3 children, and lives in Mt Pleasant NC. She lives on farmland that hase been in her family for more than 100 years, and much of what she writes is tied to her rural upbringing. Visit her blog.

Brunswick Stew
By Lorri Barrier

Late autumn,
and church crones gather
around black pots with open flames.
I fairy-dance on a path of twisted oak roots,
disappearing and reappearing.
Crows call to me.
My grandmother stirs and smiles.
I stand near the fire, staring until my cheeks burn.

Midday, we empty pots,
spoon stew into jars.
I cup my hands around them for warmth.
Tables fill, people eat under trees.
I take my bowl to the steps and
let the spicy spell work on me.

Dizzy with sleep,
I fall on a blanket of leaves,
my heart offers up this prayer—
I am beholden to you, gray sky,
you, damp-earth,
and you—women in the grove.


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