Alabama Splinters | Ellen Doré Watson

Walker Evans, Kitchen Wall, Alabama Farmstead (1936). Courtesy Williams College Museum of Art.

Alabama Splinters

Lanes of splinters climb the walls, are

the walls, while cross-strips are all about

usefulness, scaffolds from which hang:

smoke-darkened sheen of metal, rabbit’s

foot, bull’s-eye disk saying something

not quite perfect.  Silverware dangles,

huddled and glowing, like children,

little reflectors who just happened to be

born here.  Knowing nothing, we voyeurs

must know:  dignity survives knots and

nail-holes, unnoticed, in un-flattering

light.  Song that is splintered is song.

Ellen Doré Watson serves as Director of the Poetry Center at Smith College and poetry and translation editor of The Massachusetts Review. Her most recent book is Dogged Hearts from Tupelo Press. Recipient of an NEA Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Writers Award, and fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and to Yaddo. She also teaches in the Drew University MFA program and the Colrain Manuscript Conference.