NINA BENNETT // Two Poems
Lord of the Fells
My brother and I go fellwalking
in Lancashire. Public footpath disappears,
swallowed by tall field grass. We traverse
the fell, follow a stone wall,
glance down to avoid sheep droppings.
Spring lambs pause their grazing
as we pass, scurry when the ewes call.
My brother clambers over stiles,
navigates stream beds. In a move
remembered from hopscotch,
he balances one foot on an uneven
rock, stretches for dry meadow
with the other. I manage the stile,
misjudge the rock, wobble, land
ankle-deep in muck. My flailing
hand brushes a nettle bush.
A muffled guffaw and chorus of bleats
answer my screech.
Ode to Billy Joe
Another sleepy, dusty Delta day.
Between biscuits and black-eyed peas,
Mama told us Billy Joe jumped
off the Tallahatchie bridge.
Brother saw me talking to Billy Joe
after church. That was the night
of the first lie. I told him about the baby,
said it wasn’t his. Next day we sat on the bridge,
swung our feet, tossed our promise rings
into the muddy water. He cried.
He works at the sawmill, no future
there. I need somebody who can provide
more than kisses and a quickie in the barn.
Brother met Billy Joe on Choctaw Ridge,
came home with a swollen eye,
purple as an overripe plum.
Said he misjudged a hay bale.
Now Mama has the young preacher
coming to Sunday dinner. She thinks
he will restore my appetite. Lies.
It’s all lies.
Nina Bennett is the author of Sound Effects, a chapbook published in 2013 by Broadkill Press as part of their Key Poetry Series. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Kansas City Voices, Red Poppy Review, Houseboat, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, The Broadkill Review, and American Society: What Poets See. Other publications include Forgotten Tears A Grandmother’s Journey Through Grief (2005), and Five Bridges (2013), a literary anthology of work by the TransCanal Writers.