His Parents? Poor Kids from Eastern Kentucky: Life Poem

Image of "Men, Death, Lies," painting by Linda Holmes

The Bright and Unforgettable Scent of the Fruit

At 30, my father drove a Cadillac in all weather.
Seeds spat down onto the wax job of its black hood,
black being his preferred color in cars. And he owned

two Cadillacs, which he forfeited divorcing my mother
and selling Roy’s Shell, his gas station, though she saw
not one Lincoln-headed cent. For a man or woman then—
after the Cuban Missile Crisis, talk of bomb shelters—

the best thing about going broke was you had time.
Time to try and love again. To take a son for a walk.
And he took me on that walk. By a river in Dayton.

He said, Five rivers converge here. And named one
by a botanical gardens of flowers gemmy with rain.
He said, the Great Miami River. And then looked off
in the direction of where the bright and unforgettable

scent of the fruit of one orchard is the definition of loss.
On a bank of the Great Miami that day was a rotted boat.
And someone said every boat, new or old, is looking for

a place to sink. He said something similar, my father,
no fan of boats. Maybe he thought the boat we saw
was as useless as oars to row its gray decrepitude.
My parents were poor kids from eastern Kentucky.

Like any refugee, they had problems. Divorced.
Later, she went to work. In a factory. It was all
she could do. Working like that. But she did it

and survived. Meaning her face shown brighter
than anyone else standing over the shiny hood
of the next car he kept so spotless you could
see yourself in every black inch of it.

“Men, Death, Lies,” oil painting by Linda Holmes, © 2017 Linda Holmes. All rights reserved.

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama), Any One Man (Bottom Dog), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House). A new collection, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, is a finalist for the Miller Williams Poetry Prize and due out in 2018 from the University of Arkansas Press.

Comments

  1. A Roy Bentley poem is always bright with calamity and earned wisdom. This is another brilliant offering, complete with a full Appalachian pedigree–the striving to migrate, build, survive loss, and learn from what happens to that engine of the heart that works itself to death. This poem moves more gently than some, and weaves texture and meaning that resonates on other levels. Thanks, Wil, for publishing this in Steinbecknow.com.

Speak Your Mind

*