(for the old man)


I pocketed a couple of your letters
from one of your women.
I suppose I should feel guilty
since just this past winter,
the frozen ground took you into her raw mouth,
a muddy cavern of siltstone and loam.

It’s a wonder she didn’t get pregnant sooner, 
every night up  dirt roads, stirring in hollows
courted by the deafening rasp of crickets, 
you name it – you had taken her there.
She thinks it was a good time while it lasted, 
and you must have thought so too.

It sure is a funny thing, 
how even 72 miles away a cashier catches
me at the checkout, her phone flashing
an auburn haired boy,
You sure you don’t have family in Alabama, honey?

Even stranger is how your letters could have been mine.
I never told you but I brought a girl home once,
drove her out to the old tobacco field, mantled under the kindling
of rustling wings, where you shot blindly
at a boy for waking the rows of faded burley
leaves, ocher skirts buttering to touch
their neighbor’s sleeve.

It’s spring now, 
there are things I’ll always wonder,
but how they managed to till your grave
in that skin splintering cold, 
I’ll never know.





Joy Bowman's poetry can be found in Fried Chicken and Coffee and the anthology Feel It With Your Eyes: Writing Inspired by the University of Kentucky Art Museum. She lives and writes in eastern Kentucky and is a practicing hermit.