Lingering Taste of Pie
Poetry as Muse
A few years ago, we attended an author event at Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore located in downtown Asheville. Malaprop’s is a cherished institution and draws a good crowd for their gatherings; including a program called Writers at Home with Tommy Hays. Tommy is an excellent writer and a close friend who I’ve known since tenth grade.
The poet performing that day was Nancy Taylor. One poem, ‘Point Lookout’, impacted me in a way that sent me back to my childhood when my grandmother baked pies. It was the inspiration for the painting above, The Lingering Taste of Pie. (This piece can be seen at Vortex Doughnuts in Asheville along with two others).
I am always seeking a narrative to inspire new work. The words from the last stanza of her poem sent images buzzing in my head. Her Southern accent along with my desire to return to the South led me to this painting. One of my weaknesses is dessert; a seed planted long ago by my grandmother’s pies.
Poem by Nancy Taylor
Point Lookout 1940s, 50s
Like a silver beetle, it squats on the east edge of a hairpin curve,
US 70 halfway edge of a hairpin curve, US 70 halfway
between Old Fort and Ridgecrest.
Its name lights up, huge capitals
on slender iron rods, neon red.
To go for supper on a summer’s evening
is almost like going to the fair. Heading down
the crooked highway, we drool over what we’ll eat.
Lucky today, Father finds a park in front. We grumble
when Mother demands to check our hair and hands.
The odor of good grease hangs above flat, black grills.
Sizzles never cease—burgers, bacon, sausage, hot dogs.
Fried blackberry pies the size of a truck-driver’s hand,
triangles swathed in pastry contest-flaky.
Two-inch high lemon meringue, sweet peach.
The fizz as caps pop off Coke and Pepsi. Clatter
as plates slap against Formica. Waitresses call
One big burger on a small bun. Gimme extra cheddar
on that grilled cheese. Ours waits pale, private.
Her cap and apron smell snowy.
Across the two-lane, in the belly of the curve,
18-wheelers have nosed into the mountain
until they’ve dug out a space to park. To entertain
ourselves, we watch the drivers cross, slicing
through traffic with split-second timing.
Leaving that bright oasis, stuffed
with meat and fries, the lingering taste
of pie, we head back, let Father manage
those S-curves climbing the mountain,
leading us safe into the dark of night.
Nancy Dew Taylor, a resident of Greenville, SC, grew up in Lake City, SC, and spent summers in western North Carolina. Her publications include a book, Annotations of William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses; short stories in The South Carolina Review and Sargasso, a Caribbean Journal; and poems in Kalliope, Appalachian Journal, Scribble, The South Carolina Review, Timber Creek Review, New England Watershed, and Tar River Poetry, and in A Millenial Sampler of South Carolina Poetry and several other anthologies.
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