It isn’t called this. Deaf and dumb supper is what the old folks said, but you wince at the proverbial use of deaf and dumb. The old folks said haint and spectre. You lick your lips and mull. In the foothills of the Appalachian mountains… No. This isn’t the way to begin. Once, a daughter fell hillside, twisted her ankle on a briar. The wagon trail to Ravenna, long-abandoned, is still rumored to be drunk with ghosts: travelers robbed and buried in the sink holes, hidden by tall grass. At night, their heads flicker like a flame above a wick. Kudzu. Deer ticks. You wonder what to tell the reader. How the cows fled down the valley trail? How sad and sorry lonesome places are? That old hitch? The places we leave keep a certain hunger. Is this what you mean to say? Once, we knew how to call the dead home. We knew better than to make them knock.
Robert Campbell is the author of the chapbook In the Herald of Improbable Misfortunes (Etchings Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, and many other journals. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Murray State University and an M.S. in Library Science from the University of Kentucky. Read more about him at robertjcampbell.wordpress.com.