Poem of the Day: Harlan County

Stepping over the stones of my mother,
chicken bones, straw,
 
the cellar in which the man was found,
that man my grandfather
 
the day the sharecroppers left town,
their son shot dead —
 
the thing whiskey'll do to a man.
 
The woman who waited under the house at night,
counting ghosts and bobcats through lattice of leaves,
 
walking bare-boned lanes,
toes buried beneath blackened leaves —
 
no cause for worry
if you've walked every acre, planted every row.
 
Nothing can get you if you pay it no mind.
 
I tell you these things
so you'll not mistake my actions for fear,
 
not think I do not know what makes a life,
what makes people do the things they do.
 
I know my fears — I've named them,
counted them out one by one
 
like tarot cards, voodoo dolls:
 
birth,
death,
poverty,
obscurity,
that you will leave me,
or I will leave you.

Kate Buckley, "Harlan County" from A Wild Region. Copyright © 2008 by Kate Buckley.  Reprinted by permission of Moon Tide Press.

Source: A Wild Region (Moon Tide Press, 2008)

Kate Buckley

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