Savannah Sipple is from Beattyville, Kentucky, and is currently working on a collection of persona poems that are set in one small Appalachian town. Her work has been featured in Appalachian Heritage, The Louisville Review, New Southerner, and Motif 3: All the Livelong Day. She writes about poetry at structure and style.
Aaron Shepherd, 40
Every day I am born again from the darkest womb,
pushed forward, covered in damp, black dirt
that fills the cracks in my skin, fills my lungs.
My face is not fresh or innocent because I know
the land we love and play on can suffocate us,
crush us, bury us deep within and suck the life
right out of us. My first steps are hesitant and scared,
but not curious. I don’t want to know any more
answers. I don’t want to discover any new worlds.
I am born again, but my sins are not forgiven,
my soul is not washed clean. All I have done
follows me home in a black dust trail. It stains
everything like blood, like mountain blood.
Coming out of the mountain, that first glimpse of light
is a deep breath into lungs that are dying to scream.
Ann McIntosh, 16
Randy sits in front of me
in Math class, reaches back
to mark on my paper
when I’m thinking real hard.
He’s smart, but he don’t care,
and he’s so tall that, standing up,
I have to tilt my head back
to even see him. He drives me
nuts, the way he still counts
on his fingers, not cause he needs to.
He says it’s a habit. His fingers
are callused and when I asked him why
he said it was from playing guitar
and banjo. I didn’t believe him,
but for the talent show, he got up there
and sang Kentucky Borderline.
I’ve never seen someone’s fingers move
like running water before. Watching Randy,
I got a fire in my belly, hot
like moonshine. I burned all over.
Randy Moore, 16
I loved her from the first Sunday
she wore that green dress to church.
It was plain, cotton, forest green
and hit just above the white back
of her knees. The neckline came
low enough for me to see
there was something swelled
underneath. I could see my hands
run up her legs, her sides, and slip
that thing right off, quick, easy.
I loved that dress, the way
it clutched her body tight,
just enough to see her underwear
line. That dress was hot, but what
really got me was the way she wore
it, free, unconcerned, her body happy
with itself, like it didn’t matter
whether the dress was there or not.
When I was a little girl, Daddy cut trees down
and I climbed on logs like they were a ladder to the top
of the world. The sawdust smelled alive
and felt so soft it was almost moist, but not wet.
I never knew Daddy was killing the forest.
All I knew was Daddy had work
and we had enough to live on.
I didn’t know back then that trees could breathe.
I didn’t realize trees needed to live on, too.
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