The Buried Alive Man
No shoots pushed through
The drought-choked May fields
That rushed past the Fairlane on our way to
Fresh Air Pentecostal Church and Drive In Theater.
Cool Hand Luke had failed
To communicate the night before.
A tongues-speaking preacher had danced atop
The concession building that morning.
But that Sunday afternoon my father
Paid the five dollars (a carload)
So we could see the Buried Alive Man
Dig himself out of the ground.
We sat on the hood in the fourth row and
Could see, towards the screen, the canopy
And mound where some filed past to bend,
Touch the warm earth, mumble a prayer.
A voice from the window-hanging speaker called,
Attention, the Buried Alive Man is coming up,
Please return to your cars.
Assistants crowded beneath the canopy.
“Friends,” came a voice through the speaker,
“ I have been below and have come back
To tell you. I am here to tell you
About descending and arising.
“Friends, the Earth what held me in its bosom
Turnt me a loose a new man.
You seen me crawl up from the very ground
Where I laid for three days like a root.
“Friends, I am here to tell you
That I have been planted deep,
But again I walk the Earth just like you.
I am here to tell you.”
We rode home with the windows down.
The spring air washed over
And through the Fairlane like a river,
And thirty-five years later, I still smell
The parched dirt in the plowed fields
Like ours, where beans, corn lay buried,
Still see my father driving, worrying
About what the Earth might give up.