A Winter’s Tale: Lyric Poem By Roy Bentley

Image of a harsh winter's tale moment in Eastern Kentucky

A Woman Hanging Out Her Family’s Washing
During the Harsh Winter in Eastern Kentucky

Like my grandmother, the dress doesn’t fit her.
And it’s thick sweaters instead of an overcoat.

Like my dead mother, she has wild black hair
and props up a clothesline with a yew branch.

A dark moves by the creek. A snake perhaps.
Ice stalactites from the eaves of a row house

testify to what’s necessary to survive here:
to let pain melt then forget to summon it

even once as the sound of a slow freight.
When she was a fleur-de-lis too beautiful

for the snapshot moment, she showed up
the sun and moon. Now, she is filigreed

with tattooing and scarring and starlight
in laceless, newspaper-filled work shoes.

Soon, she’ll glimpse herself in a mirror:
a ghost straight out of Dorothea Lange.

The place is a heaven of snakes, though
seeing one in winter is always a bad sign.

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama Press), Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine Press), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House Press). A new book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has been selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and will be publlshed in the spring of 2018 by the University of Arkansas Press. Work from that collection has appeared in Shenandoah, Pleiades, Rattle, Blackbird, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

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