Inheritance 

Gail J. Peck


A bird flying then landing again and again in the tall grass. A lilac bush split by the wind.  The river divides the town--men fish there--some have drowned. The old house on Third Street is empty of Bibles, steaming pots, voices, and looks as if it could crumble.  Land not yet valuable, it takes its place in the row, and once gone will leave a space like a pulled tooth. Out back was a garden where you could see women, one my grandmother, bent pulling weeds or holding out aprons weighted with whatever was "in." At the end of  the day, they sat on the porch behind a trellis of closed-up morning glories, the traffic going and coming. Sometimes they spoke of husbands buried in Parrot, Bluefield, or Richmond, but not of the one who suddenly disappeared. Their sorrows, gathered, would fill a dishpan, for their lives have been long, each closed off in separate apartments when night filtered down. But the mornings--how bright the open windows of summer, the curtains alive in the breeze, water running, coffee on the stove bubbling into the glass knob. Time is not hurried, time is just time aching the legs, the fingers that comb through hair--yes, here is the mother-of-pearl pin to clasp it all back.  The day is the journey, and the mail may take them far--Has he come yet? Today the new sidewalk will be poured into the frame. Don't walk on it, go round back. Look closely after all these years and you'll notice two initials in a corner, scraped with a stick. Down from the cherry tree I'd come to stare while the big truck churned. Two letters standing for who I was, am--something to take hold.


Gail J. Peck received her MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Her collection of poems, Drop Zone , was published by Texas Review Press. Poetry has appeared in Southern Review, Cimarron Review, Mississippi Review, and is forthcoming in Louisville Review. Her prose has been published in The Deep South Anthology and Negative Capability.


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