“What we find in the Magnolias” by C. F. Shushok

when i was a child
i would spend South Texas evenings
throwing myself with reckless abandon
into the gnarled branches
of a waiting magnolia.

above the pecan falls
and beyond the waiting call
of my mother’s dinner bell.

all to sit for a moment
with those sweet flowers
in the mount above.

i should have died up there.

but every night, somehow
i would fall from grace
and land with a petal of heaven
on that rich Southern ground.

sometimes i feel like i’m still there.
above the hum of it all.
climbing ever upward to look
for whatever it is that can be found by little boys in trees.

but there are no Magnolias in Virginia.

and sometimes

i think I could still die up there
or that maybe i already did.

and i begin to wonder
how much more I could stand of this life

if it wasn’t so beautiful.


C.F Shushok is a poet and writer from the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. Their work explores regional place Southern lineage, queer identity in the mountains, politics, and his deep roots within Southern and Appalachian Christianity. Currently, they study at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. His words are perpetually on loan from the hills and the people who inhabit them.

*Image: Albina White, Pixabay, cropped

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