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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 3, September 2014

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Elizabeth Howard
Crossville, Tennessee, USA


Breakfast by the Creek

We have a breakfast picnic of ham biscuits and coffee by a shallow creek, feeding biscuit crumbles to schools of minnows that come quickly to the slightest splash. Crawfish, too, appear, and we dribble a few crumbs to their waiting pincers. We find wildflowers—spring beauties, trilliums, violets, jacks-in-the-pulpit—along the creek bank. A little further on, we see a spread of daffodils. At one time, the site was a homestead, the rock foundation and chimney rubble still visible. Under a stand of trees, we find a graveyard.

among shards
of weathered fieldstones
we read a family’s grief
three nameless lambs in a row
a mother taken early

As we walk on, a turkey hen’s head bobs above a patch of broomsage. She has a nest somewhere nearby, but we do not pry. I spot something in a mound of grass, a deer mandible. How we would like to know the story. What happened? Where are the rest of the bones? We hike to a decaying barn, surprising a doe and her fawn hiding in the tall brush. We ooh and ahh, but do not stop. A patch of black fur snagged on a fence indicates a bear has been this way. We head back to the creek where we had breakfast hours ago.

in the willows
along the rushing creek
pileated woodpeckers . . .
their raucous calls
belying their beauty

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