[Between the Privet and Honeysuckle, Someone]

by | Dec 4, 2013 | Poetry







Between the privet and honeysuckle, someone
outside the house next door lays on their horn.

My little girl on the porch with a broom.
Upstairs, the sound of a chair moving.

What begins here began with field mice and bread bowls.
But what will become of these fragments?

I hold tight to the pecan sapling in the neighbor’s flower bed.
Then the distinct sound of roots, ripping.

Are you a season or a tree? A color or a branch?
There in the woods, a valley of rhododendron and yesterdays.

On the counter, a pile of torn calendar
sheets and newspaper horoscopes.

First the baby’s head, then the toddler’s hands. A trash bag
in a ravine of clothes someone once wore.

I find a dope needle in the brush pile. The ornamental peach tree
flowers to put out an inedible fruit.

The child taken Caesarean, I couldn’t tell if the scream
or fists swinging came first.

Another train passes through. On the road,
a spent .30 cal. casing. So very sleepy, she said.

In one dream I was pulling ticks off the dog’s ears.
Then the oak tree was older than history.

What holds, and what has held: the empty white
cable truck bucket, the neighbor’s casserole dish.

One grandmother sits in a recliner beside a space heater.
One grandmother rests in a box in the ground.

“Never ask a woman her age,” she said,
“and never ask a child the truth.”

Three buzzard beaks and a sack full of giblets.
After a long night of sweating, the curse was broken.

In the distance two cardinals courted. The youngest cow dead,
her neck wrapped in barbed wire. The bees work the clover

yards away. Are you the light or the water?
The stone or the wind?

The fish we kept. The fish we threw back.
The pink hydrangeas that didn’t return.

At the bank parking lot they sell produce. In the yard,
the child runs into what feels most open and free.

These spaces, and all of us here, in the middle
of nowhere. All of us home.



Photo By: ambientfusion

About The Author


Clay Matthews has published poetry in journals such as The American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. His most recent book, Shore, was recently released from Cooper Dillon Books. His other books are Superfecta (Ghost Road Press), RUNOFF (BlazeVox), and Pretty, Rooster (Cooper Dillon). He teaches at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN, and edits poetry for the Tusculum Review.