George Ella Lyon

Old Folk @ the Grocery 

I thought I saw Mary Travers at the Beaumont Kroger—
Mary in her middle years: ample. Jangled, I reached for
walnuts instead of apples. I have seen, via wifi, Mary’s
grave. I watched, via YouTube, her memorial. I’m wary
of my heart’s readiness to behold her alive, thirty
years younger, in a supermarket in the state where
she was born. Re-seen, after reckoning, this grocery 
Mary is a far cry from that blond with the famous voice
heard here every Thursday during oldie’s discount day.
“The answer is blowin’ in the wind” she gives us, as we 
navigate the produce aisle. Later, in dairy, “And when I 
die, there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on.”


What Story Asks 

               Once upon a time there was—you know: forest, castle, king,
princess, glass mountain or perhaps slipper, and of course ogre or other EvilEvilEvil. This could be a long time from now in a language not yet in anyone’s mouth. That the kingdom falls in a swoon goes without saying.
Also the wreath of briars, elephant-high, that seals off what’s precious.
Poison apple, less one bite, rolled away. Or the forbidden wheel still
spinning. You must journey to the pond at briar’s edge. Go at first light
when the water is still. Lean and look. Do you see prince, ogre, spindle?
or your still face under glass?


George Ella Lyon serves as current Kentucky Poet Laureate (2015-2016). Her most recent books include Many-Storied House: Poems and Voices from the March on Washington, a collection of poetry for young adults co-written with J. Patrick Lewis. A native of Harlan County, Kentucky, Lyon makes her living as a freelance writer and teacher based in Lexington. 


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