John H. Bennett Jr. Prize
Spring 2016
Lee Pelham Cotton

Pretty Much Forever (The Summerville Light)

swinging her husband’s dinner bucket
new bride strides a bit faster
barefooted, bareheaded in dappled shade
okra fritters, crabcakes, a big hunk of gingerbread
mockingbirds and mourning doves making melody
sunflowers have turned towards the train tracks
whistle shriek makes her start skipping.
she hugs herself, whispers
please, please, let me do this pretty much forever

standing over her husband’s coffin
new widow stares at his scrubbed-clean hands
wide wedding ring gleams softly in the candlelight
sunflower pollen spangles his Sunday suit
from the bouquet she arranged in his arms
starched, embroidered pillowcase drapes
across the coffin where his head should be
deep-voiced organ groans, she shudders
she’ll recall this moment pretty much forever
she swings her lantern now most nights

neither new nor old, a timeless specter
green-gold flow sways over overgrown roadway
weak moonlight beshadows desolate wisteria
amid tangling vines, whippoorwills rasp
small owls peer out with pale eyes
while hidden crickets shriek in the weeds
she’ll be walking this abandoned path
pretty much forever
author’s note: the Summerville light is one of the many ghostly phenomena associated with Charleston, South Carolina. This poem is inspired by one of the legends which seek to explain this mystery. Epigram
©2016 Lee Pelham Cotton