Noel Smith is a native New Yorker who has lived in East Kentucky.  Her work has been published in several journals including Appalachian Heritage, Shenandoah, and the anthologies We All Live Downstream, Motif 1: Writing by Ear, and Motif 2: Come What May. Her collection of narrative poetry, The Well String was published by MotesBooks in 2008.  She is retired from teaching elementary school and lives in New York’s lower Hudson Valley.


Ada to Hawkeye


Hawkeye, I cannot help
who I love, you and your
creaky house whose huge logs
were notched, hoisted and chinked
by those first Morgans.

You nailed the logs over
with tarpaper and siding
but you could not cover
the humble hall stairs,
each step shiny and swayed
from centuries of feet,
tread up and tread down.

And in the rooms, all that
junk from another time.
I cannot help who I love
the prize rattler skin
eight feet long, hung over
the honky tonk bar, that
plastic coal miner’s lamp.

And all that stuff put in wrong,
like the upside down front door,
the kitchen window with the
bottom pane at the top
and the top pane at the bottom.

I cannot help who I love

When we go into the upstairs bedroom
named for me, our feet crunch
a carpet of dead ladybugs.
On the bed, beans dry on a screen
which you gently lift. You close
the door and “I Luv You” drips
from the back in purple spray paint.

I can’t help who I love 
Hawkeye, they found coal
under your house. They’ve yet
to find gas though I’ll bet
it’s there and when they do,
you’ll be slick and rich
just like the others. 
Will you take down the house
to get to it? Some think you will,
some think you won’t but you’ll leave
that to your sons and they will.

They got no use for land, Hawk
as you do.  Sure, they’ll keep
“Papaw’s” house standing
for the first year or two
and then they won’t fool with it.

They‘ll leave the old Ford truck
full of feed and old lumber
to rust in the weeds, the coke cans
and junk mail choking the windshield,
right there with the empty cartridges,
but right now you bump and rattle

along the creek bed and through
the water, grab the corn from the back
and hold it out to the horses.
They eat right out of your hand,
Hawkeye, and so do I.