Papa Willow

Popcorn, Karlen Lambert

On some nights the pasture

and the prairie fire, red blooming,

are still, standing straight,

 unbowed beneath the biggest

 moon, that downglows to the 

grasshusks, each of them

unmolested by black cow, 

nor tomato bug, and the way

 all of it is: together.

The world is getting loose,

 and thundering, runaway

toward diminishing green

From beyond some veil,

the space beneath the human

and between the blue day

and the bluer night, a tremor

shaking in the red dirt and dust

as from a wood echoing guitar

rings out through the pasture, 

and Papa Willow rises up

from the dead, lifts his head

from its pillow of goose down

To trace out his walk path

slowly across the plains where

he once rode the tall horse, straight

in the saddle, straight across

the pasture, and he passes out

aches, or a sprain, or a hurt

like a mothering bird, and it burns,

 and he yearns for the days of

The cleaned cattle chute

and the weaned calves, bucking,

and the stiff breeze, blowing,

and the rattle of snakes from somewhere

further west and the greenglass 

bottles he’d shoot from their 

perch up on some fencepost, or

log, out by the back porch, down

into the greengrass and 

the tin barn, filled up with hay bales

And the way the barn’d sing,

when struck by some hail and 

the family of owls hid out in 

that barn, and the farmcats to

chase them and snapping sheets

on the clothesline, patterned in

daisies, or paisley,

hovering in air.

Like a phantom limb burns, 

Papa Willow turns down 

the old road and

he sees the tall ferns

all a-choking and

girdling close the big

pond where the fish

used to live.

Derek Hudson · Trinity University

Derek Hudson studied English literature at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He is  originally from Oklahoma, and now resides in Beijing, China.

About the Artist

Karlen Lambert · Guilford College

“Popcorn” first appeared in The Greenleaf Review. 

No Comments

Leave a Reply