I remember Trotwood in nineteen sixty-three.
My mother’s brother with the white ’62 Impala.
Ten years before, the two of them were refugees
from Kentucky. They’d said it was easy to get jobs.
In parts of Kentucky, all Appalachia really, everything
returns to a river eventually. Freezers, couches, coolers,
really-old cars, trucks, the newly redeemed. I was taught
Appalachians know flowing water will dissolve anything
eventually. My uncle Bill Potter could tell you what poor is.
My mother—if you’d asked her, she might venture a guess
as to whether there has ever been a good time to be alive
in America. I recall Billy’s backyard on Stubbs Drive,
the way his lot abutted farmland. There was a fence—
in memory, cows come to a fence, come to a fence,
come to a fence. We go out to meet them together.
I remember he said it was fine to pet the cows.
Said that ravens were the really smart creatures.
As if on cue, some magnificently winged corvid
would call out and my uncle answer. All of which
is to say that this is how the world can grow on you.
Roy Bentley, a finalist for the Miller Williams prize for Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has published eight books, including American Loneliness from Lost Horse Press, who is bringing out a new & selected in 2021. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, and Shenandoah among others. Hillbilly Guilt, his latest, won the Hidden River Arts / Willow Run Poetry Book Award and awaits publication.