Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mary Mackey

Mary Mackey

Uncle Wid's Wagon

In the morning Grandmother sends us out with the mail
standing side by side in the back of the truck
clutching the top of the cab
competing to see who can yell
the loudest eating dust
that tastes like stale Necco Wafers careening around
corners attempting to fly
chipping our teeth on gravel

at the crossroads
by the general store where Great-grandfather Horace
Ebenezer once courted his fancy woman
Uncle Wid waits for us
accompanied by two mules
he loves more than Aunt Ebbie

thin as an old rooster
hard as a fence post
a riverboat cook with a laugh you can hear
three counties over and enough lines
in his face to remap
all of Kentucky

when he finally stubs out his cigarette
with his thumb and slaps the reins
the mules balk and we learn new words
bitch bastard gee haw

Come on y'ol sons of bitches! he yells
the mules flatten their ears against their heads
expose yellow teeth the size
of piano keys lunge forward and the wagon
starts up creaking and rattling like a pair of lovers
flailing away in an unglued bed

we bounce down the road past the Cooks' place
(our sworn enemies since 1792)
past the family graveyard
with its infant burials and kawumpus stones
eyes stinging
faces bloodied with red dust

the day grows hotter
the corn glistens and trembles
breathing out secrets
it only tells to children

this all of this
is what the past takes
with it
when it packs up
and leaves

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