Barbed wire snags like briars when
fence posts rot in goldenrod,
the cows are gone, the cowpath
a thinning along the creek
to follow upstream until
water narrows, gray planks lean
over the flow like a book
open but left unfinished,
like this bridge was when the man
who started it took to his
death-bed, watched from there a son
drive the last nails, drive the truck
across so he might die less
burdened that night. The farmhouse
is razed now, the barn and shed
bare quilts of ground. All that’s left
some fallen-down four by fours,
a few rusty nails, this bridge
the quick or the dead can’t cross.
from Among the Believers
© 2000 by Ron Rash
Used by permission of the author.
Ron Rash was born and raised in North Carolina, in the southern Appalachians, where his family has lived for over 250 years. Rash holds degrees from Gardner-Webb College and Clemson University, and he now lives in Clemson, South Carolina, where he teaches English at Tri-County Technical College and is a member of the MFA faculty at Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rash has won a General Electric Young Writers Award, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, and has been awarded the Sherwood Anderson Prize. His poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals, including Poetry, Yale Review, Georgia Review, Oxford American, New England Review, Southern Review, and Shenandoah. He has published three books of poems, two books of stories, and has a novel forthcoming in the fall.