On the porch of a tin-roof shanty
the whittler whittles with patient tenderness.
His hands, dark as sorghum molasses
are nicked and marred
from cotton's wicked thorns.
He chips and gouges,
reveals the cedar's salmon-hued grain.
Fragrant bark tumbles
in Aida Mae's bed of hollyhocks.
He whittles below the sun's molten glare,
sips chilled well-water from his jelly jar.
A bewildered butterfly appears on noiseless wings,
keeps him company for moments.
A gust of wind turns the weathervane
and sheets, white as dogwood
undulate on the line.
Aida Mae's corn husk broom scratches the floor,
she sings, "Blessed Assurance."
He hums along,
chipping and gouging,
tendrils of wood at his feet.
A liquid moon moves over the towering pines.
The hollyhocks are asleep for the night,
their perfume still, without the fire of the sun.
He rises from his cane-bottom chair,
brushes bits of cedar from his chest and lap.
The house is quiet,
bathed in silver moonlight.
On the cookstove, chicken, rice, biscuits
and a pone of spicy potato pudding.
He whispers grace and sups silently
on the gingham oilcloth.
He sheds, with his overalls, the long day.
Makes his way to the crisp, pine-scented sheets
and Aida Mae's arms.