Family Portrait. 1790

William Wright Click to

William Wright is the author of four full-length books and four chapbooks. His full-length books are Tree Heresies (Mercer University Press, 2015), Night Field Anecdote (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011) and Bledsoe (Texas Review Press, 2011).  Series editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology (Texas Review Press), Wright has recently published work in Beloit Poetry Journal, Greensboro ReviewKenyon ReviewColorado Review, Indiana Review, AGNI and North American Review.  He is founding editor of Town Creek Poetry. Wright also edited Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry (with Daniel Cross Turner), due out from the University of South Carolina Press in 2015. Wright will serve as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee in spring of 2016.

Family Portrait, 1790 by William Wright

North Carolina Blue Ridge

Here earth juts and tumbles in woods
where mountain creeks purl, slake through
rock, sluice schist coves and sheltered

gaps, then push hard through piebald sheer,
down to the slant of a cabin leaning:
Dusk’s long shadow flickers dark

in this singular room, where my kin huddle
around bacon and cabbage that snaps,
burbles over pine-hiss and ember—

Fire grinds the weight of nightfall
on their silence, toil-dark scowls
over tight frowns, throats hungry

to down day’s reaping. Here, land
is the sole tongue, etched in intricate syntax
of apple and trillium, the garden’s blood-idiom,

husk-dry stanzas quenched by prophecies
of rain. Nights, when their worn out bodies
die into sleep, their dreams are rationed

to applewood and rattlers, valleys’ tobacco
and fodders stacks, the few words passed
that I take with me, write down, and move on.


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