by Gail Peck

My father lived over
a river of thought
I rowed and rowed
The banks high
edged in stone
where weeds grew through
Sun in front—
shadow on the water
The wind whispering Go back
be a child again
it was only then
he was there

Under the boat
black snakes
They won’t hurt you—
same as the dead
in the cemetery
I ran through
How could they
have forgotten
the imagined so soon
Night lowered
I rowed and rowed
toward the reflection of moon

by Gail Peck

                                after a photograph

She’s holding him, my baby brother,
knowing she might not see him again.
Her eyes seem almost closed, her face
angular while his is round with baby fat.
They are feeding him well at Whitten Village
where my father insisted he be placed.
Dewey Lee, his namesake.
Shortly after birth his fever spiked
and left him with convulsions.
When he was home I was told not
to pick him up, but did one day
and carried him to a chair.
Then he disappeared.
My grandmother sent money to Oral Roberts
for his healing.  We’d seen those on T.V.
who threw their crutches down
and walked toward outstretched arms.
But my brother never lived to walk.
When did he wear the little red overalls
my mother saved all her life—
my sister found them when cleaning out her things
and gave them to me.  I keep them in a box.
I imagine shirt, socks and shoes.
Could he have held a rattler,
and would he have looked up as he did
at our mother’s face when she called his name?


Gail Peck is the author of eight books of poetry including The
Braided Light
, which won the Lena Shull Book Contest from
the North Carolina Poetry Society in 2015.  Peck’s poems and
essays have also appeared in
The Southern Review, Nimrod,
The Greensboro Review, Brevity, Comstock, Stone Voices,
and elsewhere.  Her essay “
Child Waiting,” which first appeared
in the Spring 2012 issue of the
Apple Valley Review, was cited
as a notable essay in
Best American Essays 2013.    

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 12, Number 2
(Fall 2017)

Copyright © 2017
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.