Traditionally, a pastoral is a poem that centers on the beautiful and tranquil qualities of rural life and landscapes. This week’s poem upends that tradition with breathless, leaping sentences that demand that we pay attention to their own particular brand of truth telling.

Adrian Blevins is the author of “Live from the Homesick Jamboree,” “The Brass Girl Brouhaha,” and, most recently, “Appalachians Run Amok.” which won the Wilder Prize from Two Sylvias Press. She teaches at Colby College.

Pastoral

By Adrian Blevins

My bravery is a daydream that comes from grass I guess

and from the first biography I ever wrote on George Washington Carver

who I chose to forever-love in the third grade

and also to persistently analyze because George was gutsy and brawny

and neurologically elastic and good at knowing about crop rotation

and at mixing things together into a nutritious mash. As a matter of fact

I did write about George in longhand in a little diary with a silver key

and though I couldn’t spell any of the words like “Tuskegee”

I didn’t care and neither did he because we had the mocking birds

to keep us company and not too far away a waterfall we could climb

if we were brave enough, which of course we were. Yes that was

a slippery slope but I loved going to the falls with George

even more than I loved the slick moss and the snakes and cheese sandwiches

my mom would make with Wonder bread since this was forever ago

and Whole Foods hadn’t been incorporated yet

and was as it happens nothing but a series of woebegotten brothers

making molasses on a mountain with a mule and a Granny

who was their mother as well as a stereotype. Yes I have gone

to great lengths to explain myself by way of George to you

and still I feel provoked to continue or maybe just start all over

with my book report on Susan B. Anthony but since that would require

feats of memory and feistiness far beyond me

I’ll just assume you’ve had enough and wander off to the periphery

where all my people live amongst themselves

in an invisible little sachet of thirst-quenching derring-do.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2016 Adrian Blevins. It appeared originally in the literary magazine Copper Nickel, appears in “Appalachians Run Amok” (Two Sylvias Press, 2018), and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to www.pressherald.com/tag/deep-water.


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