1st Place Poem – Grief

By Jon Marshall

Photo by Gerald Pinto

It’s like that train rumble
rolling around Joy-Wright Mountain,
off way in the distance;
so lonesome,
makin’ a body want to sit and cry
til the Saints think to call us home.

Sometimes I still hear that bull gator
under Silvy Bridge
where Bobby dared me to sneak’n grab his tail.
How does he do it?
Livin’ in that holler,
no other gators around,
all alone?

The folks passed years ago.
Them being so much older, seemed natural.
Both vanishing like starlight in the dawn.

But not the others.

Grew up playing with my brother, sister.
Faded away: she first, stubborn to the end;
then him, denying anything could be so wrong.

Thought they’d always be around.

Years later, felt that about my grandkids, too.
Now, gone to the four winds;
I, to a fifth,
heart baked bare by a dry Southwestern sun.

Once I wandered deep into Tiawichi Creek,
becoming lost in those thick woods.
Stumbled upon an old cabin
now forgotten by everyone who ever knew it.
A feeling of loss drifted about that place
like an early fall fog over Mill Pond Bayou,
just laying itself over the smokey water,
like my dog Dori used to drape on me
when I laid upon the cool ground
staring at a night sky wanting me to fall into its infinity.

Used to drive out Afton Thrash road with Brad,
way off in the east county,
where we could ride’n drink beer with nobody carin’.
Ten years later, he was gone: snuffed out.  Don’t know why.
I still think about the way he always had my back.
Some said he held no moral fiber, but I knew better.

Uncle Bill, driving at dusk, hit a Mexican on a tractor
running no lights.  They say he didn’t know what hit him.
Maybe.  Maybe we always know what hits us, eventually.

Older sister has that Alzheimer’s.  Barely knows me.
But always asks where’ve I been.
Always say I’m back now.  She smiles like that’s a comfort.
Didn’t know she missed me til a part of her was gone.

Where’d they all go?

Thought they’d always be around.
Never gave it a mind they wouldn’t.

Not even once.

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