Heather Cox

Southern Storytelling

I would tell you the story of the boy who bled
out in the meadow, but we call them fields.

How his left lung functioned like an accordion
collapsing, an accordion with a hole for a mouth

letting escape only broken music, except
our hands are for fiddles, our fiddles

for fireside. What words he whispered
through firewater breath before his soul

weaved its way upward through the tangle
of tree limbs, their arms locked for centuries,

to somewhere beyond the farmer’s stars, or
slithered, through the dirt his father’s

father tilled until the work crushed his bones,
to a cavern we imagine as volcanic and vile, but

might just be a vast darkness without an echo
to keep a lonely voice company,

but you never tasted the sting
when moonshine blazes a trail

from your tongue to the pit
of your gut. You never tried

to decipher words from whiskey lips
stained cherry from a single chest

wound. I would teach you
how to spell sorrow, how to say sorry,

show you the way to look at a mother
when you bring back her boy mangled,

soggy and nibbled, but you’re far away
from here now, learning a new language

that doesn’t waste time with words
for things like this.

Heather Cox edits Ghost Ocean Magazine and Tree Light Books. Heather’s poetry appears or is forthcoming in Jabberwock Review, [PANK], Boxcar Poetry Review, Mid-American Review (Editors’ Choice, 2012 Fineline Competition), Thrush Press, Oxford Magazine, and elsewhere. Heather’s chapbook ‘Dream Seller’ was a 2012 Strange Machine Books finalist, and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Texas-born and Arkansas-raised, Heather now lives in Chicago with her partner and can be found online at looklookhere.tumblr.com.


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