V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Overcoming fear of stalks that are too close,
I remind myself it’s Lexington, that mist

on fields meant rattlesnakes in rows of corn
would be cold, sluggish.  Like prying out

potatoes with my fingers, I dig up tubers
as if I could lift my father, seeded with cancer,

if only for a day from gravity, from ground.
My parents know what I know—this is the end;

they will not return to this house my father built.
No refugee in Kosovo, wheelbarrowing

his grandmother to safety, I will bring as much
of Kentucky, of their dirt as I can carry with me

on our flight to Connecticut.  A bride, moving
to New Haven over thirty years ago, I have

not taken root.  I cannot explain this urge
to go to creekstone fences my father stacked,

dig up box after box of  peonies I will bank
into granite piled along my side garden

so my father can see pink, fuschia, blossoming
from his bed.  Is this what revision is, change

of location, spreading, to retell my story
another time, in another soil?  Unable to untie

what binds me to Kentucky, to bones of all
those who are in my bones, I will save what

I can of my mother, of my father from this earth,
from the dissolution that binds us after all.

© by Vivian Shipley


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