Local Poetry

In Text and Audio

In The Presence Of Violets

Mid-April and the boy
Follows the river, past stacks
Trailing flags of red smoke

From the open hearth furnaces,
Past refinery flares that cast
An orange glow on rows
Of run-down houses,

Past the dam at the edge of town
Where an undulating raft of carp,
Killed by the water’s toxic stew,
Piles against the dam.

Fifteen and alone, he heads
Toward a copse of trees
Where the spring before, he found
Small patches of violets
In a rare strip of dark soil
On a clay bank.

This year they are legion.
A haze of blue on a field of green,
Frail stems quiver in the breeze,
A miracle of color bursting
Into a dull landscape.

He sits for an hour
On an island of peace
Until a gray curtain of rain
Draws across the bright scene,
Then rises, turns toward home.

At supper in the grim kitchen
A sister asks him why he’s wet.
The silent father, weary
From the long day in the mill
Does not look up. The boy shrugs,
Files the memory away.

By Gene Kimmet

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