HomeSouthern VoiceLove and Death

Love and Death

by Fred Bassett

carGot word yesterday about Tony Fuller.
In ’49, he had a new, silver-gray Ford
with a glass steering knob, mounted left.
God, he could wheel that raging V-8,
while hugging Rose Ann Hood with his right.

Afternoons, he’d wait in front of the school.
She’d scramble across the front seat,
slide under his arm, and snuggle up
with her cheek on his chest, her right hand
in his open shirt with that tangle of hair.
And there I was tripping home,
desperate for Sue Ann Scott to throw
herself at me with such sweet abandon.

Tony had called an old friend.
“You better come over.
I just can’t live by myself.”
A neighbor said she heard two shots.
The door was unlocked.
They found his dog in the kitchen,
Tony in the bedroom.

I understand death, even its necessity.
No death, no birth. No birth, no me.
So I praise death for my silver cord,
knowing that it too will soon snap.

But love? Why do we turn aside
for the tar baby, humming “true love”
as if it were an eternal truth function?
And why do we still long for it,
even with that old chariot in swift descent?

A native of Roanoke, Alabama, Fred Bassett holds four academic degrees, including a Ph.D. in Biblical Literature from Emory University. Now retired from academia, he and his wife in Greenwood, South Carolina, near their grandchildren. His poems have been published in more than 70 literary journals and anthologies. A collection of his poems “The Old Stoic Faces the Mirror,” which includes this poem, was published by Salt Marsh Cottage Books. Paraclete Press published two books of poetry that he arranged from Biblical lyrics: “Love: The Song of Songs” and “Awake My Heart.” His debut novel “South Wind Rising” was published by ATTM Press. The sequel “Honey from a Lion” is forthcoming later this year. Read his previously published poetry in Deep South here.

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