Carl Wycoff CC
Ode to Danville
The oaks and maples step close like a crowd
pressing in on famous people.
The old red schoolhouse and cooperage,
their doors shut like mouths of the dead.
In the old days the cooper took half-formed barrels
to the hooper to bind in hot iron,
to fill with what? Burnished apples,
or the liquor you need to flush yourself through a New England winter.
I used to run through the woods where they tapped
maples for syrup, the trunks scaly like burn victims’ arms--
drained, linked through rubber tubes like
a pale blue IV.
Everyone in town was on some life support or another,
and there were many benches bearing plaques of children’s names,
but you never heard screaming unless in glee
for backyard fireworks, first launched a week before the Fourth and continuing
until the kids went back to school--
a little sheltered, a little shy, much like Danville herself,
who, like me, I think, is wont to sleep in the middle of the afternoon,
slowly rolling and rolling, like hills.
Like the hills especially in the part of town
where the streets take the names of precious stones--
Diamond Drive, Emerald Lane, Opal and Ruby Street.
We knew no riches other than these.
James King is a poet from New Hampshire and an MFA Candidate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His work has appeared in Exposition Review, Chautauqua, Humana Obscura and High Shelf. He lives in Wilmington, NC, where he works as a coordinator for the UNCW Young Writers Workshop. He luckily cannot be found on Twitter, but is on Instagram at @jamn_king.
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