Elders: Vincent and Prudence

by Adam Elgar
The Writer's Block
Honorable Mention, January 2007
Judged by Pascale Petit


They were the chatelains of slant, moist acres.
Pasture, orchard, bean-rows, slate-tiles, granite.
Counterpointed comfort and endurance.
“Shoot the menfolk,” he would say.
“Ensures a happy family.” Pheasants, he meant,
and practiced it until his aim deceived him.

She terrified our daughters, glinting
in her seventies with the spring
and toughness of the farmer’s wife
we’d never known, who roared her jeep
through narrow lanes with five sons
bouncing in the back.

They believed the wedding of a minor royal
merited champagne, that boarding schools
made men of boys, that women stole
men’s jobs, and yet we loved them:
for saying what they meant, and meaning it;
for standing in as parents; for the valley, woods
and angled drizzle that seemed part of them.

Later, they withdrew to a single small-town story,
with the essential glimpse of grazing cows
out of one back window.
He said, “You either go on, or you go,”
his hand peat-mottled like his single malt.
And after Prudence had diminished,
grey-skinned, scant-haired into her own shadow,
Vincent took his own advice.



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