The Exclusivity of Quaintness 

Arlena Lockard


In the hollow that year I cut my shirtsleeve limbing.

There was nothing to fret about

except sawdust and sinew,

and the low edging rush of the town’s people.


I did not wish to remain at the mill

that was looming over my past,

like cattails growing over a ditch,

or memories locked up meticulously,

fleeting sparrows I wished once and would never dream again.


Left alone to waste away observing,                                                                                                                                  

thoughts plagued churning brain,

begging over and over again

for the emptiness of a village in virtue.


The comings and goings of provincial town

played out before me, as I was chained,

useless to an old rocker, weathering away on my front porch.

I watched a miner with coveralls and a weak disposition

hunched forward, expressionless,

his long thin fingers limping behind him in the wake.


He trundled many steps to cover ground,

apologizing to the path for spilling coal

as it masked my neighbors’ way,

the soot waving over the rumors

of the village that was stealing me toward tomorrow,

before the howling would stop.


A provincial town must always pick at truths

from the exclusivity of their quaintness.


The church-going folks began to pander

I suspect they would all preach

to have grace space stored  somehow behind eternity.


They peer down their long pews of righteousness.

The miner, tired, of course, from the work,

felt the fear permeating from their prejudice,


seconds ticking off his frame and his tiredness,

and the child, questioning on the porch,

wondering about the cure for coalminers,

and even the stars shining in a wide expanse,

ask why, about the throne of their maker,

the white clouds in the elevated sky,

and the suns of their perfectly motionless god.