Faith as an Arm of Culture, Culture as an Arm of Narration

by James Seay

All those miles, the dark water beneath us
as we slept in the wide rows.
From Heathrow, jet-lagging and hugging the left
eight hours into the moors
to walk through the open gate
beside the flower garden and find it—
right where she said on the transatlantic telephone,
my friend Bonnie from Georgia,
away for the weekend with her fiancé in France:
the back door key
up under the mop bucket,
her grandmother’s language and habit.

James Seay was born in Panola County, Mississippi, in 1939. His publications include four collections of poetry (most recently, Open Field, Understory), two limited editions of poetry, and a documentary film about big-game hunting in East Africa, In the Blood (1990), co-written with the film’s director George Butler. His poetry has been selected for inclusion in some thirty anthologies. He has also published essays in general-interest magazines such as Esquire and in literary journals such as Antaeus. From 1987-1997 he served as director of the Creative Writing Program at UNC-CH. His honors include an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Bowman and Gordon Gray Professorship (1996-1999) for excellence in undergraduate teaching.