Little Rubin Attempts College

by Tara Bray

Needing the solid ground beneath his feet,
he walked the rural roads so he would not
backslide. He cried each time someone from home
joined the other side, stole a sip
of alcohol. When their sips turned into nights
of drunkenness, he couldn’t get out of bed
for hours. But walking kept his focus on
the Lord, until mesmerized, he neared
a black snake on the roadside, freshly dead
and still as his sleeping father’s arm. He stroked it,
singing Oh Lamb of God, his tears slipping
to the black tar, soft from the stinging sun.
He lifted the snake and found
a place for it in the shade of his despair.

Tara Bray‘s work has been published or is forthcoming in The Southern Review, Puerto del Sol, Atlanta Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Many Mountains Moving, Green Mountains Review and Crab Orchard Review. She is in her final year at the MFA program at the University of Arkansas where she holds the Walton Fellowship in Creative Writing.

Poem from Sacred Dirt