Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by Abby Chew


A Girl's Story

On the south bank of Jack's Defeat Creek
I caught my first channel cat,
first largemouth bass. Years ago, I found
fresh water mussels there. Saw
my first coyote, a mother with two pups
trailing after. The wind
shrugged in from the north
or she would have scented me first.
I saw, I swear, a badger down there
the year my grandmother died.
What a vicious thing.
Just south of Tory's Run an AutoCar
sits rusting its doghouse clean through -
I saw hellbenders breeding, the eggs a mass
bigger than my fist. My god, I am struck
down by the beauty of this creek.
I have seen along its banks
animals bigger even than my dream
of you walking toward me out of the dark.


Rooftop

Sister learns to play harmonica
so the bats come swooping
down to meet her. The high C brings
them from their hunting.
Late in March, late at night,
she crawls out on the porch roof
to sigh and breathe them in.
They fly like flapping black gloves
when she reaches out her left hand,
hoping she might become
part of the way the movement
moves. She is not afraid of a bat
in her hair. She raises
and lowers her chin, letting the air
sift through her, in and out
with force. Come here, she says.
Come here and listen.


Snake Spring

This should work:
Dig.
Water comes welling.

But I tried that. No thread
bubbled up inside the hole.

If Brother was right about the Earth's blood,
creeks and rivers and such as that,
where was the scab today?

He knew where to find
morels under the lightning struck maple.

The Earth doesn't bleed the way we do.
It's a different skin.
I like knowing - blood flows all ways.


South Pasture

Seven. Riding out early
with Brother to check cows,
I held tight to his white shirt.

I kept my eye on his neck, freckles
dotted along his collar. The rise
of spine into neck into skull.

Byro grazed at the South Fork. We ate
sandwiches and drank
straight from the spring.

I woke to a low sun.
The wind picked up. My own shirt
blew tight against my back.

But I heard Byro stepping through the shallows.
Brother glowed white against the sky
where he stood listening for bawling heifers.



CO RD 950 S

Drought equals dust.
The girl wants her hair
out of her face. The boy
wings rocks
toward the South Pasture fence.
The stones bounce,
skip across land so dry
the puff of dust
rises and cannot settle.
They walk
down the brown ribbon
of Jack's Defeat looking
for empty crawdad shells.
They cross the bridge,
stand at the strip of black tar
where they have seen men
come and go on horseback,
in trucks, on foot -
carrying a bag or nothing at all
across their backs.
These two kneel
at the road's edge,
fingers to the shoulder.
They look east and west.
They look through that glimmer
for someone new on the road.
And the road is a ribbon
itself now. Even wider
than the creek and never turning.



Doghouse

In summer, the dog lies
against the side
of his house in the trench
he dug there. He pretends
it's snowing. Yes -
he can pretend. He can pretend
as easily as he can love you.
As easily as he chased off
that tinker sneaking
eggs from the chicken coop, as easily
as he fought that bobcat.

Father knew it, and so he built
the house with the good roof,
thick walls. He elevated the floor
so it would not rot.
He painted the dog's name in green.
He took every care for the dog,
who is old now, and dying.