Cherry Grove

by Elodie Ackerman
The Town
Honorable Mention, July 2007
Judged by Maurya Simon


All around the old place,
the dead visit. The
day he opened up the trunk
of that sweetgum tree,
and before we saw the
horseshoe hanging inside,
something brushed against
my face. I heard a nickering
far away, and the smell of oiled
leather and candlewax.

A few days later Lloyd
found an anvil half
inside an oak tree, back
by the old barn. It was ten
feet off the ground, and
the color of storm clouds
when the air smells like metal
and electricity breaks
it right in two. They say
a shipwright lived
there once. I know.
I’ve heard him hammering.

That was before the rumor
of the slave revolt across
the road. Nineteen men killed,
tortured, all for the sake
of a child’s tale. A child
named Obey. No excuses.

The crape myrtle we cleared from
the back forty bled claret-
colored sap, and stuck inside
one old, stubborn knot
was a skeleton key.

The silver lying all around,
tarnished forks and bone-
china plates. Daddy said
she burned that house a’purpose,
took the tram to the train
and left town. Nobody
Ever saw her again.
But to be frank, I don’t
believe it.

I saw her walking in the fog
one morning, early. Picking bones,
rearranging bricks,
breaking twigs over and over.
She saw me too.
We’ve been talking
back and forth, she and I,
between the branches.



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