Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


Wyatt Prunty, a native of Humboldt, Tennessee, is the author of seven poetry collections, and his honors include fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. Founding director of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, he teaches creative writing at the University of the South.


For weeks he’s tunneled his intricate need
Through the root-rich, fibrous, mineral dark,
Buckling up in zagged illegibles
The cuneiforms and cursives of a blind scribe.

Sleeved by soft earth, a slow reach knuckling,
Small tributaries open from his nudge—
Mild immigrant, bland isolationist,
Berm builder edging the runneling world.

But now the snow, and he’s gone quietly deep,
Nuzzling through a muzzy neighborhood
Of dead-end-street, abandoned cul-de-sac,
And boltrum from a dead-leaf, roundhouse burrow.

May he emerge four months from this as before,
Myopic master of the possible,
Wise one who understands prudential ground,
Revisionist of all things green;

So when he surfaces, lumplike, bashful,
Quizzical as the flashbulb blind who wait
For color to return, he’ll nose our green-
rich air with imperative poise of now.