Three Poems

Poetry
C.C. Thomas


Putting Up Peaches

It was a tender surprise:
golden globes suspended in sweetness,
an eternal sunshiny world
captured in a sugar museum,
pushed to the back of a cabinet.

The heavy jar calls to mind
endless June days,
laboring in the kitchen.
Slicing and boiling
measuring for an ultimate
delayed gratification,
knowing not how or when
or where my gifts might be used.

To sit almost forgotten
in the darkness and wait
for a bleak, frozen January morn
when such sweetness is needed.

I open the seal and remember the day,
when grasping the full, plump orbs,
I grabbed the blade to remove
the fuzz, the juice from my crime
hanging heavy and thick, so that
I smelled like peaches
the whole summer.

 

A Family Legacy

I remember
you sitting on a creaky wooden swing
cigarette haze crept out of your mouth
and around my thoughts.
I would be eating the tiny green apples
from your favorite tree,
swinging at them recklessly
with a broom handle until they fell
on the slick summer grass.

I forget
who made the first move
towards the silence that lay between us
like a checkerboard.
both afraid to cross the invisible line
easily seen halfway between us
crowning a queen, though,
would end our game
and this is the only way you taught me to play.

I remember
wondering how you could know
what world existed beyond your concrete steps;
didn’t you ever notice the sidewalk leads away
straight out of your yard, down the road.
Here was never meant to be my final destination;
did you follow the gray path
and stay because you wanted or because you were trapped
by the responsibility in those small faces that waited
behind the lace curtains every afternoon
for your footsteps on the walk.

I forget
how I should feel now you’re gone
rebelling against a ghost makes me seem crazy
unstable, supports everything you’ve ever said about me;
I can’t seem to find the right color of green
for your eyes, in my mind
the intensity of your disapproval will never fade
and it is the power of your face that stays with me
the way some people remember a smell or a song.

I can’t remember
why you never liked your first name
or how you took your coffee
and these small things have become to me
of momentous importance;
I should have something to tell your grandkids
about you, something besides
the sepia photographs
lurking in the family bible.

I can’t forget
the legacy you left behind
all the things you never said;
the silent disapproval that trails me today
follows me from town to town
more efficient than the FBI,
whispers in my ear on every first date,
questions every good decision I almost made;
your voice calls to me over the years and I can’t forget
because you won’t let me.

 

Country Mile

Can you walk a country mile in my shoes?
Growing up in the mountains,
debutante parties of coal miners’ daughters
wearing coats of many colors.

Like the fog that rolls down our hollers,
our heritage is evaporating with the sun.
It’s easy to forget because we want to…
if the farm is failing
or the check didn’t come;
because our town is dying
like the corsage from last year’s prom.

A country mile in my hometown
takes you right past the old mill,
dried up like the pulp they once
spread in the hot summer sun;
Ben Franklin’s closed two years ago
even though
we still quilt, still sew.

And in the Korner Kitchen,
if you wipe off the dust on the windows,
you can still see each barstool.
Red leather trimmed in white,
silver stands squealing
while we twirled,
and the smell of
a T-Bone topped by onion rings
would curl around
the fans wavering on the ceiling.

A country mile will take you from the
courthouse square to the new
shopping center,
a big ‘Mart next to the bypass;
parking lot full,
the sun glinting off leased autos,
waiting for their owners
to drive country miles,
away from home.

pencil

“I have had some success with my poetry, being published in The Chaffin Journal, The Litchfield Review, Bellowing Ark and Bibliophilos and appearing as a featured poet at The Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, Kentucky as well as being selected as a finalist in the 7th International Poetry Contest sponsored by Mattia. I have had several nonfiction articles published as well and was recently awarded first prize in The Heartland Review‘s short-short fiction contest and received Honorable Mention for Lucidity‘s Winter Volume.” E-mail: j3cthomas[at]insightbb.com

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