Cheryl A. Rice

Jed Clampett Is A Happy Man

Texas Tea might intoxicate others, but for Jed,
it is simply a way to support his family. California
has more sun than the Ozarks, and Granny’s
getting up there, old bones creaking
whether she admits it or not.
She makes the best of it, brings her still and
her possum stews, possums not as hard to come by
as some in Beverly Hills might have you believe.
Just ask Ellie Mae. She’s got more critters around the
Cement Pond than she ever dreamed of back home, monkeys and all.
She’s still got her country ways, tomboy that she is.
No need for a leather belt when rope will do.
Jethro’s smile beams bright as the endless sunshine.
He’s eager but not too bright, strong but not
terribly subtle. He talks about building a casino,
everybody’s picture on the pinball machine,
snack bar featuring Granny’s vittles, even a
wedding chapel where he himself would perform
the ceremonies. Mr. Drysdale, neighbor and
trustworthy banker, knows better than to
back Jethro’s plan. He hands him a fiver,
and the boy acts like he just hit the jackpot himself.
Buys ice cream for all the kids at the soda shop.
Doesn’t look at one of them sideways.

Jed’s a happy man, wanders the grounds
of the mansion, watches the crew cut the lawn
every other day, trim shrubs, weed the gardens.
Granny’s got the kitchen covered, everyone’s
got their lives. Jed does miss the woods
sometimes, the smell of fresh caught fish
frying on a campfire. He misses
Ellie’s mother, remembers the slip of a girl
he courted back in the day, blonde curls
and blue eyes. She died when Ellie was born,
and the family acts like she never existed.
Granny especially buried her memory
when Mae Rose was laid to rest in the hills
they’d all been born and raised in.
Would she have enjoyed all this fuss,
clean, bright houses, automatic heat,
air-conditioning and sunshine? Jed
remembers moonlight sneaking
thru the pines in autumn, the way her
little hands held his, two-step of love
in the peaceful buzz of the Ozarks.
Somehow his accident made things easy,
even fun for the rest of the Clampetts.
But it won’t bring Mae Rose back. Nothing will.
He thinks some nights he can see her
dancing on the moon, but shakes himself
out of it. Just a crow, or a night owl,
one of Ellie Mae’s critters come to
remind him it’s all good.