Digging in the Notebooks

I've been looking through old notebooks and found this poem I'd forgotten about in a notebook from 1989. I traveled to Virginia and North Carolina for a conference and to interview a folklorist that I know. I stayed at my brother's house in Farmville, Virginia, where he and wife were college teachers. I was surprised to learn about the communitarian Moravians around what is now Winston-Salem, N.C. The snark may be a bit too much here, but sometimes you can't leave it on the field.

Don’t Tell Jesse Helms

 A hummingbird sucks red syrup from a tube at a brick bungalow

Where I’m hearing one of the region’s foundation stories.

Mud-green ceramic catfish decorate an heirloom sideboard.

On the Salem side of a Carolina city branded by tobacco,

There’s an old part settled by Moravians, neighbors of the Bohemians,

United Brethren who favored a ritual “lovefeast” of sweet buns and wine.

The German Protestants who walked south from Pennsylvania

Made a church community whose history museum today

Says those early Americans believed in radical sharing:

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.