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 four books and several chapbooks. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Blackbird, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere, as well as the anthologies New Poetry from the Midwest and Every River on Earth. His collection of poems Nosferatu in Florida is currently in search of a publisher, having been a finalist for the New American Poetry Prize (twice), the Moon City Review Poetry Prize, the Gerald Cable Book Award, and the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. He has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry) and fellowships from the arts councils of Ohio and Florida. He lives in Pataskala, Ohio.

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