The Skeleton in the Dogwood
(Watauga County, 1895)
Two lovers out walking found
more than spring’s promised blessing
on new beginnings hanging
in a dogwood tree’s branches.
No friend or kin claimed those bones.
The high sheriff came. Foul play
he was sure, but how or why
he found no answers, so stayed
to help break the ground, help haul
a flat rock out of the creek,
sprinkle some dirt, some God words,
then left for more recent crimes.
The lovers wed that winter.
On their marriage night they dreamed
of bouquets of spring flowers
blooming in a dead man’s hand.
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.