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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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What happened when Ted

Wandered in the Field

 

 

You were two and

crossed the fence line

into the overgrowth,

sapling box elder trees

filling the vacuum

of abandoned farmland

left to grow back into itself.

 

I did not panic.

But I did not follow.

I stood on the edges

calling to you.

 

I saw a lady

you said emerging,

She talked to me.

 

To this day I have not

crossed the fence line

or picked through

the overgrowth,

the dense returning

of all that was lost

in the world

 

What you saw or did not see—

 

And I wonder

who she was

this one who was

not your mother or

at least was not me.

 

    —Angela Williamson Emmert

Relic

 

 

Made of fine black leather

like an old man’s billfold,

the toes curled and tipped

with nails rubbed to shine,

the chicken foot sits

on the washing machine

to remember the rooster by

my boys tell me in spite of

what he did and how he died:

put down with a knife for

pinning the hens and ripping

their feathers out one at a time.

Or because of this his relic

held in a boy’s clean hand

has the power to expunge sins

even those unforgiveable,

the ones for which we must

give up our lives to atone

for all the bad we have done.

 

    —Angela Williamson Emmert

 

 

 

Still Life: Boy with Dog

 

 

The boy and his dog know

the stone pile overgrown with sumac

the tall grasses of the cattail swamp,

the channel where rocks are washed

by a river each spring of melting snow.

 

They know the place deeply

they wander unware through the folds

of the land left by ancient seas and collect

small stones, those crushed jagged

by glaciers or worn smooth and small.

They have done battle with burdocks.

They have followed the bees.

They have cut their toes on sticks;

they have bled on the ground.

 

In the thin light

the boy’s hair is without color

and the dog is the color of dirt.

They know without thought

as they travel that the dog’s soft steps

will mark their trail and his good

nose will someday lead them home.

 

           —Angela Williamson Emmert