The Poetic Hill


Local poet Sandra Beasley is the author of three poetry collections—“Count the Waves,” “I Was the Jukebox,” and “Theories of Falling”—as well as a disability memoir, “Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life.” Most recently, she is the editor of “Vinegar & Char,” a collection of verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance by some 50 poets, including Elizabeth Alexander, Natasha Trethewey, and Robert Morgan, that celebrates Southern culinary traditions. The poem below is by one of the contributors, Sean Hill, who will join Beasley and Atsuro Riley for a reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library in conjunction with the Folger’s current exhibition, “First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the America,” and the Library’s Mellon initiative in collaborative research, “Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways.” The reading is May 11 at 7:30 p.m. For more, visit or call 202-544-7077.

Boy, let me have a taste of the Mister Misty.
No, they brought it out around the time you
were born in sixty. I like the way it swish
in the cup. Sound like Sammy Davis Jr.
doing the soft shoe shuffle. They call
that the sand dance. Sound like shifting grains
or a fast train. Them little bits of ice
tap your teeth, and you can chew on that sweet
mouthful of cold melting to nothing before
you swallow it down. First time I had one
of these, I drank it too fast, crystals in syrup
dancing around and down my throat chilled
like Christmas and New Year’s cold breath moving
down to my chest. And if that wasn’t enough,
then I felt like my head was about to split
right open. Thought my forehead was gon look
like that Dairy Queen sign red and wide
like a gash. You know, they ice cream got nothing
on your mama’s pineapple ice cream. Theirs
ain’t nothing but soft light ice milk. They build
it high like a steeple, but ain’t nothing
to that either. You see your mama puts
a dozen eggs in her custard to make
it rich. The sound of the ice and salt shifting
in that bucket as it melts with that electric
churn’s whining motor groaning as that ice
cream stiffens up sure is pleasing cause I know
the ice cream about ready. You know, there are
folks getting their heads split so we don’t have
to go around to that side window no more.

“Boy,” from “Blood Ties & Brown Liquor.” Copyright © 2008 by Sean Hill. Reprinted by permission of University of Georgia Press.


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