The birthday girl is fifteen today,
the family gathered for the celebration -
barefoot children play while women
twist the heads off chickens, boil water,
prepare to pluck while the men
play banjo music and familiar
mountain songs fill the air.
Grandmothers rub her strawberry-ripe belly,
make predictions of boy or girl,
but her eyes are fixed on her young husband
who sits alone on a step, smoking
a handrolled cigarette.
Later, in the back room that is
their private world, she clings to him
like a lonely pine desperately rooted
on a precipice, her eyes the color
of their mountains, crumbling and ancient.
He dreams of his uncles' black lungs
and dark holes in the ground,
she dreams of learning to read
before her baby comes.
Dedicated to my sister, who works to help mountain people learn to read and who raises money to buy books so every child has at least one of their own.
28 Aug 09
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There is so much in here that is good, but the third stanza stopped my breath. I have minor nits with some of the pacing and tone, but they are very minor indeed and hardly worth bringing up.
wow, imagery is moving and well made -- the shows up too many times in the first strophe which dulls your bright crystals of words -- the use of conflicting imagery makes this shine twice as bright -- well writ Poet
I agree with Ananke. Poignant imagery, I quite literally saw this scene play out before my eyes as I read. There are a few places it could be tightened up, but as already said, minor and hardly worth bringing up. I really like how you've illustrated both hope and fear in the last stanza.
Thank you all for the kind words.
Ditto all the previous comments.
it was like a short movie.great!
The images in this are fabulous and true-to-life. I can smell the Smokey Mountains, taste the quisine, hear the music. I agree with Ananke, the third stanza is the power in this wouderful write. Thank you for sharing, poet.
Thanks a bunch, you guys.