Peek Creek, Pulaski, VA
The vast waters flow past its back yard.
You can purchase a six-pack in bars!
Tammy Wynette’s on the marquee
a block down. It’s twenty-five years ago:
you went to death, I to life, and
which was luckier God only knows.
There’s this line in an unpublished poem of yours.
The river is like that,
a blind familiar.
The wind will die down when I say so;
the leaden and lessening light on
Then the moon will rise
like the word reconciliation,
like Walt Whitman examining the tear on a dead face.
His song remains secret.
He worked too hard to read books.
He never heard how Sherwood Anderson
Got out of it, and fled to Chicago, furious to free himself
From his hatred of factories.
My father toiled fifty years
At Hazel-Atlas Glass,
Caught among girders that smash the kneecaps
Of dumb honyaks.
Did he shudder with hatred in the cold shadow of grease?
Maybe. But my brother and I do know
He came home as quiet as the evening.
He will be getting dark, soon,
And loom through new snow.
I know his ghost will drift home
To the Ohio River, and sit down, alone,
Whittling a root.
He will say nothing.
The waters flow past, older, younger
Than he is, or I am.