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“Firsts,” “Lasts,” and “Returning in November”

by Peggy Hammond


I know I rode my tricycle,

we named her Ginger,

off the front porch.

I have the scar.

When training wheels

were removed,

I don’t remember the day;

I remember the wobble.

I know the morning the call

came, the news of cancer.

The world wobbled.

I have the scar.


That full moon hung heavy

and low, a white fruit

ripe for picking.

I bundled you into

the car, drove you

for a clear view.

In that moonglow, our hearts

may or may not have beat

in time with one another.

That moment may or may not

have been the last time

such a moon reflected

in your eyes.

“Returning in November”

back to the homeplace,

the deep woods of my youngest years,

beyond the old graveyard,

its primitive stones rising like buoys

from a leaf-litter sea.

The creek cuts its own path,

and we follow, you,

seeing everything for the first time

as I breathe memories

sweet as honeysuckle.

My sister and I in the

trailer behind my father

steering the tractor down rutted path.

Trees destined for stovewood.

Chainsaw whine. Childish songs:

someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah

someone’s in the kitchen I know.

Here, the stream swims around

the body of a deer, bloated,

mostly submerged. You take my hand,

pull me closer, whisper,

don’t look, don’t look,

as if protecting me,

as if I’ve never seen death before.

Peggy Hammond’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in The Comstock ReviewWaterwheel ReviewCrosswinds Poetry JournalScissortail Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her chapbook The Fifth House Tilts (Kelsay Books) is forthcoming in fall 2022, and her play A Little Bit of Destiny was produced by OdysseyStage Theatre in Durham, NC.


Archive, The River

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