Harland Sanders Café and Museum
All the stories, incalculable as new-green
leaves burgeoning this Kentucky spring
while the past grades down to humus. Here,
for 26 years, a man sold gas along Route 25,
mixed spices for fried chicken batter, and the tourists
flowed through, the tourists fed, and now I
am part of it, I superimpose myself, viewing
the replicas of the 30’s dining room and kitchen,
sitting by a life-sized model of the Colonel
and grinning for a Facebook photograph.
My brief history here is entirely transfixed
by a hot redneck boy in his twenties whom I study
over my husband’s shoulder. Solemn green eyes,
brown beard, spiky tattoos revealed by
short T-shirt sleeves, and his right arm
in a sling. I have a leg; John has a thigh.
“Best biscuit I’ve ever had in a restaurant,” I growl,
licking my lips. “He’s disabled,” jokes John,
“I’ll bet we can take him.” “Oh, for a sweet breast
of white meat,” I sigh, watching my prey leave
with a gaggle of older female kin. At age 53,
I regard with both regret and relief
the approaching day when I might choose a biscuit
over a boy’s bare buttocks, though my guess is that
death might precede such an abdication.
Jeff Mann has published five books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, Ash, A Romantic Mann, and Rebels; two collections of personal essays, Edge: Travels of an Appalachian Leather Bear and Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South; a book of poetry and memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men; four novels, Cub, Fog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal, Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War, and Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War; and two volumes of short fiction, Desire and Devour and A History of Barbed Wire, which won a Lambda Literary Award.