Free Verse

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foxfire is the bluish, green glow that emits from fungus present in decaying wood.

Sealed for


My great-grandfather donated the land

for the one room schoolhouse

and each fall took a mule up the creek beds

past the makings of stills and turpentine

to enroll the children in school.

The men drank sap beer and ate sour pickles

to cut the sugar

so they could drink more.

They stole lead

from a vein the Fox Indians hid in the mountains

to cast it into bullets and firing pins.

The women used the ashes of ferns for salt,

cast soap root on the water

to raise fish,

and eat Queen Anne's lace

to sleep while the foxfire glowed.

In the spring, grandfather watched the maple moon

take the frost from the ground

and run it up the trees in sapsickles.

Once he'd burnt the tree through with a hot iron

it would weep until it budded.

This sweetened his tobacco,

and when burnt the color of molasses ,

flavored his coffee.

My great-uncle made furniture

and dovetailed the smallest drawer

for what could be hidden beyond a false bottom.

He buried his mother in a walnut grove

and thanked her for the meals

of corn bread and creek water

and for teaching him about

the seal of the Holy Spirit.

He made coffins during flu epidemics

and helped bury of the children

of the men who had the stills.

He came to believe their soul rested inside the wood

until a foxfire signaled a resurrection.

* * *

Deborah Quigley Smith has published poems in Melic Review, Long Pond Review, Sequoya Review, and Poetry Miscellany, as well as other print and online journals. She has an English degree from Harding University and currently lives with her husband in Quigley's Castle, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to poetry, Debbie writes international thrillers, one of which was recently selected as a semi-finalist for a national prize. She volunteers in the Community Writing Program, mentoring students on plot and character.

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