Shelby Stephenson 



I have come to sit in the crotch
Of the apple tree and watch
The plankhouse appear where once

We lived in three rooms and pantry.
I am daydreaming like any
Boy who’s growing in a century

Its own Time, with perfect changes,
Until my eight years turn to ranges
About the person – Death – who hinges

Mortality on funerals
The boy must attend, since reveries
Do not bring back the several 

Loved ones who have gone on before.
He sits in a musical score
Of his making, the plankhouse more

Than less, now, six decades hence:
The brick home’s living room has since
Replaced the orchard; yet a dense

And slightly veiled scene haunts me:
I see peach trees and Black, the mule,
Lifts her head to nibble the clear-seeds,

While I want you to know that this
Was before lawns; our yard was bliss.
The mules, both Gray and Black, could wish

For no better life than to browse
The meadow, after crops were housed,
And lounge and feed on Nature’s fare.

They loved to chomp the fallen fruit,
As I enjoyed it, too; what treat –
In that tree – Heaven – or near it.


Shelby Stephenson’s  Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, Allen Grossman, judge. His The Hunger of Freedom is forthcoming from Red Dashboard Press. See Shelby’s previous work in Still: The Journal.


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