“Eclipse Salamander” by Suzanne Stryk 1996 gouache on paper
I come from the careening wrong turn,
Holy Rollers, multiflora rose, and fists;
siltstone and slate embossed with ferns;
bituminous coal that pocks our land with holes
and pits, and makes an overseas company rich.
My trailer stands at the end of a derelict road
I never would have found. Showers at night
fill my gutters with knuckles of hail,
scattershot ice a bruising reminder to me
that I am really in my body, and not in a dream,
when I go out to smell the world set alive.
Taking welts on my back, I move past wood scraps
and junk cars, to the well-house where I draw
sulfur ooze, a bucket of the true, the dark, the raw.
William Kelley Woolfitt lived in West Virginia for over twenty years, and now teaches creative writing and literature at Lee University, in the foothills of the Appalachians. He is the author of The Salvager’s Arts, co-winner of the 2011 Keystone Chapbook Prize. His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Cincinnati Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, Shenandoah, Los Angeles Review, Sycamore Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. He goes walking on the Appalachian Trail or at his grandparents’ farm in West Virginia whenever he can.
“Absentee” first appeared in Talking Leaves, in slightly different form.
Read an interview with William here.