In this spot, no rule was ever broken
and the folks here are remembered more
for their patterns than for their faces: each one
a hewer of wood or drawer of water
borning and dying on no particular day
or known only for a few dates repeatable
in a ledger of similar events. April 7, 1934:
Elmer Waddle bought four sacks of pattern-
printed feed. March 6, 1957: Jim Ed Mullins
took his new Fury in for its first rotation.
September 11, 1947: Sarah Henderson
became the first woman on salary at the plant.
June 1, 1977: Mr. Waddle fell at home and died.
So what book of life takes note of those who make
no crest or logo, who stomp nobody else’s earth
with salt, as Caesar did? Well, used to,
when I was a kid there was this other kid
who would throw chinquapins at girls
as he rode by them on his bicycle.
So another neighbor kid of mine—
she didn’t like it, so one day she decides
that when he comes by, she’s going to jam
a walking stick between his bike rungs,
and when this works and when he crashes
she rushes on the kid and dumps a whole bag
of gingko berries (rancid stink bombs) on his face.
Now I don’t remember her name (or his), but the image
of his scrunched, shocked face has never left me.
The rule I take from that? History is aberration.
~ ~ ~
Matt Prater’s work has appeared in journals on four continents, including in Appalachian Heritage, drafthorse, Floyd County Moonshine,, GOWP Zine (Ireland), The Hollins Critic, The Honest Ulsterman (North Ireland), The Indus Streams (India), James Dickey Review, Kudzu, Motif, Now & Then, The Pikeville Review, Revolution John, Still: The Journal, Town Creek Poetry, West Trade Review, and Your One Phone Call (Wales). A graduate of Radford and Appalachian State University, he will begin work towards an MFA from Virginia Tech in fall 2015. He lives in Saltville, VA.