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Vinton County, 1965


ISSUE:  Spring 2012

Sunday settle of the coal-silted fog the damp cinders
couching our slow steps up the hill to their farmhouse
Pumpjacks to the east nodding back to the earth

In my grandmother’s house the light caught in amber
Covered birdcage hint of wintergreen horehound
in her hobblenail dish  Ancestors curved to their oval frames

glassed stares still fixed on their hardship  olive Jesus
lacquered to a slice of cedar and a dark galleon pitched
on the night seas in a high churn of salt spray

How many times I imagined myself on that deck far and free
from the circling ties all the grown children living in their rings
of houses around their parents down the ravaged hillsides

The family graveyard with its little fence out back
Glazed blink of the town’s stoplight as we walked home
cinders ridging high around our shoes  The night air

a creosote veil a curtain always drawn how it hung there
in the trees  Visible even now how it marked me the lodged
cinder they plucked from my eye the hook of that scar

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