Melva Sue Priddy 


Red Sumac

In the early years there was no fence
only a cluster of bushes on the hill
under a large oak, near the gravel road.
There we stalked each other, wild animals,
while we watched cows inside our child-linked
fence, keeping them from the road
fronting that field.

It became forest, this cluster of sumacs, shelter
over our heads at noon, a breeze to cool, a green umbrella
when it showered, a lookout for stranger beasts.
Beneath the brush turning yellow with bloom,
we hid and counted vehicles drive by, the gravelly dust
settling topside our canopy. 

The sumac stand seasoned
until a true fence of wire was built—augered
holes, cedar posts and fencing nails.  We came
and went daily, returning to round up cows
for morning and evening milkings.  Then we left,
one sentinel at a time, and the sumac, plowed under,


Melva Sue Priddy, a native Kentuckian, lives near Lexington, Ky. She earned an MFA in poetry from Spalding University. Her work has been published in various print and online journals as well as several anthologies. Her previous work in Still: The Journal appears here.


return to Trees                               return to poetry                              home