The Last Lap of the Daytona 500

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The Last Lap of the Daytona 500

by Adrian Blevins
Southern Cultures, Vol. 10, No. 3: Fall 2004

". . .there's now the death of Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt."

When Dale Earnhardt dies, I’m standing in Uncle Doc’s
listening to the men put across the woe of the penalty of
Since this is the day of Ann’s funeral and most of us have driven
          a long way
to hear the Episcopalians in their smart white robes say all but
about Ann who lived among us our entire lives as we ourselves
          lived among us
since she was also us, it seems to the men unfeasible that beyond
          Ann’s death
there’s now the death of Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt,
          Dale Earnhardt.

Before the wreck (get this) I was writhing as only I would
that the men were watching the race while the women prepared
          some casseroles.
Unlike Ann, I was writhing. Then the knock and the spin and
          the splash
of the crash, and even if the men didn’t drop their glasses and
          fall to their knees
and weep, you could tell that’s what they were after with all
          their hollering.
Knowing that made me think that the empty winter tree
          looked like nerve endings
as we drove from Ann’s casket and the immaculate church there

the sun. The winter trees know there’s no sense in trying to
change people.

O uncles, cousins, fathers, brothers: sit in your chairs all week

and mourn the death of the great stock car racer Dale
Earnhardt, if you want.

This poem reviles instead the rubbish Episcopalians speak in
small Virginia chapels

re: my mother’s sister Ann who died of a hard-working,
charitable heart

while downstairs in the dark Earnhardt blazed in churning
spheres of counterfeit light.