Still Literary Contest Judge's Selection: Erin Miller Reid


Erin Miller Reid was born and raised in Williamsburg, Kentucky.  She earned her medical degree and Master of Public Health at the University of Kentucky.  She currently lives in Illinois, where she just completed a residency in Dermatology and is presently doing a fellowship in dermatologic surgery.  She looks forward to moving back to the Appalachian region someday.


An Underground Education


Daddy learned the Classics in the mines,
back bent, only three feet
illuminated by a head lamp,
next to the equally stooped
professor from Northwestern,
home to Harlan County
to tend to his sick mother.

The professor recited Homer, Virgil, Plato,
Sophocles, Socrates,
Aristotle, and Aristophanes.
Ships set sail with a hundred men rowing in time,
Democracy passed from thought to action,
Gods and Goddesses, so easily miffed,
chose favorite sons,
dictated duty over desire
despite the lilt of Sirens.

He taught
hundreds of feet below the frost line
as they shoveled and loaded
lamplit shadows of coal,
here and there the imprints of
centipedes, snails, and silverfish
scooped up like any other rock
and carted to the present daylight
to burn.