The Ten Women in Every Appalachian Woman I See
Most obvious, most dear, is the mother for her cool,
rough hand on my forehead when I was delirious
with German measles and the great grandmother
ghost who slung powder on us both from the closet.
I see the school nurse, steady as a smile,
holding my arm like a small bread loaf
for my first polio shot. Then, the sister,
cute as a spring apple, able to bear the abuse
of everyone’s attention . Two grandmothers,
so identical in their crocheting and love of history,
I have the one story that is their generation’s.
The daughter who always knows where I am
and where I should be. First crush atop the slicky-
slide licking bubblegum syrup from her sticky fingers
and perfectly willing to slap me sideways
for stealing a kiss. Twin girl on the swings
one winter, her sister drowned when the slag dam broke.
The lost one there beside her, the playground empty
of everyone, she waited for something in the snow.
I’ve watched these women all my life and seen them
wherever I go. It is like looking at family. No matter
who they are, I would struggle in their behalf.
Ron Houchin has a new and selected collection of his poetry due out from Salmon Publishing of Ireland in 2013. The Louisiana State University Press will publish a new collection of his poems (The Man Who Saws Us in Half) in its Southern Messenger Series also in 2013. He has poems soon to appear or recently in Birmingham Poetry Review, Five Points, and drafthorse.