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Spring/Summer 1998, Volume 15.2

Poetry

 

Joseph G. Kelley, III

Joseph G. Kelley, III (BA U of the South) is finishing his masters in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. This is his first publication. In August, he is bound for Cairo, Egypt, where he will teach in an international school.

 

Evolution

The record of this road—the very road
That twists beside the little yellow house
Where I was born, carving out the ridge

Above the baseball field, cleaving through
The red-bricked village-shops, plunging
Among the pines and down the bluff to town—

Its record is opaque, entombed by scales
Of asphalt, which, if molting like a snake,
Unskinning brails of footprints, tracks and treads,

Unlayering all the human sediments
That expedited my suburban home—
It will unearth the lives of inbetweens.

On top, Pleistocene petroleum tar
Holds the Accord my neighbor tests, at speeds
Of sixty-plus, to hit the clubs downtown,

But now we're pealing concrete beds, and one
Is flecked with rubber, shaved from Mustang tires
When uncle Bill took off for California.

Cobblestone is now exposed, cut and crushed
By hooves and wagon wheels, from moving tools
To groom ten acres for the Mount Retreat.

Flaying a layer of well packed dirt, we find
A settler's watch and a Union bayonet,
Parallel destinies manifest in soil.

A Cherokee foot-trail is lifted last, engraved
With toe-prints from sacred hunts, where deer
Were pierced, and skinned, and thanked for being food.

The last we see is a paw-stamped game trail,
A former stream diffusing plateau floods,
Water diverted and funneled by fallen trees.

And trees alone have witnessed all these layers,
Great oaks I pass each day on my way to work,
With appetites for sun and ground, and layers

Radiating outward from the heart,
They whisper their retreat, as we extend
Our reach and pile these layers to the sky.

 
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