I do recall -
But with great difficulty now being as it is nigh fifteen odd year
Since the winds of fate blew me away from that land of inclement clouds
To the land of soft mornings where mist arises from the warm earth
A glowing shroud over the graves of thick skinned negroes
And white skinned fools who killed for harsh corn mash bourbon
And a fist of tobacco.
My eyes once were filled by a grey landscape of grey people with dark blue eyes
and wrinkled foreheads, thin lips and mustaches.
And my eyes which were as blue as any man's turned grey
When I crossed that cold river that runs through coal and iron
And I saw the flat lands of Mississippi and the long overgrown fences
The fallow ground, the derelict house, the old mule were my new companions,
The creek bed, my bed, where I dug with bleeding fingers and broken nails
Into the round holes of the crawdad.
I did work while I could, and for a time, I could
I retained some humanity. But I could not keep from fighting.
I found myself, passing through the tall grass, I was like any other beast,
Infested with ticks and fleas and lice and indifferent to the skeeter
Which plague the better sort.
All this - long time - until my heart started beating again
And I walked into the mission house in Jackson.
Lying in a filthy bed I began to read Faulkner,
And the old man died there in that mission.
I grieved for him a little, a pitied him beyond anything else in this world.
And when he was buried, and I was at last free,
I walked out onto the street.
And for the first time, I looked North.