Back to TOC

Shelby Stephenson

Push On

In sickness you'd groan you were dying
And when you were, there was no one there.

Push on,
The grins, the sparks,
the fieldlarks over the rye, the stoveeyes and the hog-jowls,

And you in Beaver Dam
Lifting your heels on the wet leaves.

I see your huge hands
(You said HUG)
and we would laugh, though you cared less.
"Sat" was "sot." "Seen" was "seed."
You kept bills on a piece of haybale wire
In the corner of the closet: that was your desk!

The meat was in the saltbox
In the barn or hanging up
In the packhouse on nails and wires to cure:
hams and shoulders!
The link-sausage lay
On the sweetgum poles nailed to the ceiling.

The sweet
Running stream in Beaver Dam!
The forked branches below the tobacco
Beds, the breathless speech that came
After a gully-washer and we'd go to the ravine
And maybe see a turtle I'd bring up for you to clean
The little crawfish brushing the sand
Backwards into everything long ago made graceless
And irrelevant.