Outside of Effingham by Scott Boyd
Pudding Magazine #56

I am West on 70 when I see it,
A mound of roses twitching
In the shadow
Of a giant cross.

Stark fire towers keep their watch
Perched atop bone dry hills.
They spot thistles ablaze
In drought-stricken soy fields,
Sparing homes that aren’t worth
The blocks they rest on.

After Honey Creek dried up
A new harvest was wrought,
This one a factory to build
Fences where hay bales once held sway.

The fear of a fire that never came
Pressed hands to machine levers
And palms ceased their prayers to brooding clouds
“Lord knows,
The only break we get
From plantin’ to sowin’
is a rainy day.”

Darwin’s Road still runs the country mile
It takes to find
St. Mary of the Woods College
There are washed out oaks still showing their roots
By low water bridges, and
A barn still stands,
After all these years
Of corn wilting sun.

This freeway might end
Where the Pacific
Touches Tokyo,
For all I care,
In fire and salt.
Ever since that cross
My dreams have been ravaged
By a fever of steeples.

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The Schuylkill Valley Journal publishes poetry, short stories and critical essays. Both the SVJ and SVJ LIT come out twice a year, in the spring and in the fall.
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