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