Peace River

by Kay Manley

Sam was done with killin’.
That’s why I never told him what Angus did on that Sunday after preachin’.

It was after our dinner of catfish, grits and okra.
Momma and the little ones were nappin’ in the front room.
In that heat nothin’ moved except Angus on top of me, under the live oak.
I can still smell the orange blossoms from Hank and Sally’s grove.
The old cur slept through it all on the porch.
Sam was gone to Virginny.
When he came home next January I saw his left sleeve was empty and flappin’ in the breeze.

Sometimes Angus came around and brought us perch from Bowlegs Creek.
Momma kept an eye on the shotgun propped in the corner the whole time he was there.
He never stayed long.

Sam had killed Seminoles and Yankees.
I wondered if their wives had loved them as much as I loved Sam.

Angus was done with drinkin’.
After Sam had been home a few years from Virginny, they opened the bar room.
They sold whisky to wranglers and cowhands.

The law never arrested anybody for shootin’
Angus on a Saturday afternoon in front of the bar room.
Sam kept on sellin’ whiskey to all those rough men.

Kay Manley is a retired community college administrator and former bookstore owner. She is now an adjunct instructor, community volunteer, and avid traveler. Poetry has recently emerged as a rekindled interest.

About Peace River—My Sunshine State roots go deep. After a summer of delving into family genealogy and studying the history of Central Florida, my imagination was unleashed in a Great Smokies class. This poem is one of the results.