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Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

POETRY by Gretchen McCroskey

Gretchen McCroskey
Gretchen McCroskey

By Gretchen McCroskey | March 25, 2008

Communion Wine

Daddy and Uncle Campbell broke
the snow, walking the mile
to Valley View Church
with Joanna Worley's blackberry
wine wrapped in white linen.

Though pine kindling and oak
logs could not cut the cold
in the empty church, color
came into the two deacons'
cheeks when they drank

the four cups of forgiveness.

# # #

Gretchen McCroskey says, "I believe that my desire to write grew out of my father's remarkable storytelling ability, but I would have probably never published without the instruction and encouragement of writers Jeff Daniel Marion, Gurney Norman, Jim Wayne Miller and Eric Trethewey.

McCroskey is Associate Professor of English at Northeast State Technical Community College, Blountville, Tenn. Her poetry has appeared in Now and Then, Sow's Ear, Appalachian Heritage, Wind, Number One, and Artemis.

# # #

Brother Deakin Climbs the Steeple

by Gretchen McCroskey

In 90-degree weather
Brother Deakin
climbed to the top
of Chestnut Grove Church.

"Deakin, you'd better say your prayers,"
the men on the ground chided.
"One wrong step and you'll be
meeting your Maker."

Calloused hands took up
black asphalt shingles,
placed and nailed them-
the roof of this country church
becoming Deakin's Sistine Chapel.

The only time he came down
was to get the letter from his mailbox
that stood near the church.
He took the letter
up on the hot roof

where the words oozed
like the black tar underneath
his fingernails.
He wanted to wrap the words
around his fingers
wear them like a ring.

The other men watched
as Deakin climbed the chicken ladder
to the top of the steeple.
With one eye on God
and the other on the woman
he'd held last night,

Deakin hammered,
each fragment of his life
shimmering in shadow
and light.

# # #

Prince Albert

by Gretchen McCroskey

I will not sell or discard
this Prince Albert can.
I do not need the money.
I have no desire to trap
salamanders as I did
one summer day
of my childhood.

I want this Prince Albert
can to remind me how you
rolled your own cigarettes
in order for the cash crop
to pay for the education
you never had
but you gave to me.

Here on my fireplace hearth,
Prince Albert stands vigil
over dried leaves
that opened doors
you could never enter.

# # #

Meet the poets featured in the April issue of A! MAGAZINE FOR THE ARTS and read their poetry by following the links below:

Benjamin Dugger
Warren Meredith Harris
David Winship
Henry McCarthy
Lena Cantrell McNicholas
Samuel Miller, M.D.
Poetry Events
Arts All Around: A Day Without Poetry by Barbara-lyn Morris
Arts for Youth Spotlight: ETSU Senior Researches Japanese Poet
Back to the main story by Rita Quillen
Jane Hicks
Felicia Mitchell
Delilah O'Haynes
Neva Bryan
Rees Shearer