Poems by Rosemary Royston

Greasy Creek

The house was made of large, smooth stones
moved years ago by some­one unknown,
maybe from the creek out back which snaked
through an Appalachi­an patch of bamboo.
So much ener­gy went into the outside
that the floor joists gave way long before
they should've.  For three months I lived
with J and C, man and wife.  My upstairs room
a win­dowed alcove with racks of C’s thrift store
clothes and a tran­sis­tor radio. No cells, no TV.
For enter­tain­ment we had skunkweed,
a porch swing, books, a garden.
At least twice a month the pump broke,
leav­ing us grimy and irritable.
I earned my keep by pulling let­tuce, spinach,
squash, cook­ing bis­cuits from scratch.
Me with my sil­ly make-up bag and hairdryer,
C with her clear skin and braid­ed mane.
We'd sit on the porch, talk about building
a green­house, which nev­er got further
than a dark womb in the earth.
On week­ends peo­ple appeared—
C’s broth­ers and sis­ters, or Ed, the neighbor
with the yard full of cars. He was 50, yet had
the slim, tight body of a knife-car­ry­ing teen.
His wife, preg­nant and smok­ing, most­ly silent.
On Sun­days, after every­one wandered
home, C would open the windows
while the sun played on the scratched
wood and Ella's voice filled the room.
I fol­lowed that voice to the cen­ter of myself,
obliv­i­ous to the sink­ing floor, the wasps nesting
in the cor­ner of the ceiling.


Stand­ing behind her you may be tricked
think­ing she is 16, all tiny in her snug jeans
and pink hood­ie, but some­thing gives her away—
the round­ed shoul­ders, the brit­tle blonde
with black roots.  When she turns to face you
while wait­ing in line at the Dix­ie Quick
there’s no doubt she’s long past Sweet Sixteen,
if she ever had one.  One son dead, the oth­er in jail.
Three hus­bands lat­er she owns a double-wide
and the best view in the coun­ty, Dou­ble Knob
in plain sight from her bay win­dow. As the sun sets
she sits in her plas­tic Adiron­dack, taps ashes
into a beer can and talks on her cell
as red bleeds down past the horizon.


Rose­mary Royston’s chap­book Split­ting the Soil is forth­com­ing in ear­ly 2012 by Red­neck Press. She holds an MFA in Writ­ing from Spald­ing Uni­ver­si­ty and is a lec­tur­er at Young Har­ris Col­lege. Rosemary’s poet­ry has been pub­lished in jour­nals such as The Com­stock Review, Main Street Rag, Coal Hill Review, Future­Cy­cle, and Ale­house. Her essays on writ­ing poet­ry are includ­ed in Women and Poet­ry: Tips on Writ­ing, Teach­ing and Pub­lish­ing by Suc­cess­ful Women Poets, McFar­land. She was the recip­i­ent of the 2010 Lit­er­al Lat­te Food Verse Award. She cur­rent­ly serves as the Pro­gram Coör­di­na­tor for the North Car­oli­na Writ­ers Network-West.



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One Response to Poems by Rosemary Royston

  1. Karen Weyant says:

    I love these poems! How can I get a copy of her chap­book? Has it been pub­lished yet?

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