Three Poems by Jeremy Michael Reed
He Tripped, Rabbits in Hand, on his Way Home
Dear Future Child,
In my voice, you hear my father’s voice. You do not know this, but I do. To you, hearing me, a smudged mark shimmer of all who came before me: Geneva, Katherine, Abbotts, Looneys, their voices under tongue, held like cool river stone.
I traverse boundaries of old farms, territories, treatied lands without knowing where their borders are. I hike knowing mountains they crossed are near, knowing I cannot find my way back to where they settled, how it’s been destroyed since then in all except my voice.
But I’ve found the river. I’ve found a rock face scratched near water’s bend, shoals. I continue speaking, and you can hear my father. I know you hear him when I speak to you.
after James Agee
I return from pines and cedars,
from aspen clusters, through beech spinneys
to farmland, foothills, flatness. The hills begin,
Smoky Mountains, Appalachia. My grandmother
returns through me.
This landscape shapes me,
affects my words for things, how I hold
my shoulders, how I set my mouth when I speak.
Geneva did in the thirties what I do now:
watch films on Gay Street, hike the Smokies,
walk Market Square, observe the Tennessee,
keep these stories to herself. I do these things,
but presence remains underneath.
the odd, shaky light of morning, mountains appear
out of fog as if cast by projector, but this time not
obscuring how we sit in the dark. Instead, clearly:
hills remain, always remain, with or without the fog.