Christmas Eve at the graveyard, the children of a woman who helped raise me sing “Silent Night” for their mother. Rows away my brother sleeps the long dream beside my grandmother, my kin, my people. Somehow snowfall always seems to accompany angels. Somehow we’ve made it through the apocalypse, still waiting in long lines at the chicken shack. My daughter forever bundled in sock hats and blankets, a candy cane dripping off her face. I start to tell her a story but there is too much to say and nowhere right to begin. The first word she learned was more of a song than anything, more of a sound than sense, the voices of those three women lifting the spirit of their mother who was a giant woman, hands like the wings of a bird born never to fly, baritone and sweet in command as all of us were children then and family. In the distance the dogs pant from a long run, a hawk writes eternity in the sky, the long white hem of her apron dragging the holy ground.

CLAY MATTHEWS has published poetry in journals such as The American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. His most recent book, Shore, was recently released from Cooper Dillon Books. His other books are Superfecta (Ghost Road Press), RUNOFF (BlazeVox), and Pretty, Rooster (Cooper Dillon). He teaches at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN, and edits poetry for the Tusculum Review.