by Virginia Barrett

Carol left after just six months but my neighbor had a mother.
Maple trees giving over to fire in the fall.
Salamanders in the heat mushed flat by tires.
Missy put the hood of her parka up, curled down by the cow.
The fleshy pink licked her like she was the calf taken to the lower barn.
I said I would never kiss with tongue.
Their big heads thrust through bars at milking time.
Lost languidness of fields.
Marble sidewalks laid from fragments we skipped over.
Wrecked boys stumbled around the old quarry down the road, night coming on.
They said old metal wedges embedded deep could impale you in the plunge.
I slipped once and hit my head tumbling knocked-out into the water.
The farmer’s son put his hand up my shirt behind the church.
Missy conceived the child in the truck bed parked in their dirt driveway.
Cows lumbered back to the barn, swollen udders swaying.
The muted manure-drift of dusk, the shuddering leaves.


Virginia Barrett is a poet and artist whose books include I Just
Wear My Wings
(Jambu Press, 2013) and Singing My Naked Lines
(PoetSong Press).  She is also the editor of two anthologies of
contemporary San Francisco poets,
Feather Floating on the
Water—poems for our children
and OCCUPY SF—poems from
the movement
(with Bobby Coleman).  A teaching-artist in San
Francisco city schools, Barrett is also the co-founder of the annual
We Are All Poets youth poetry/civics program in collaboration
with the San Francisco Main Library.  She is currently an MFA in
Creative Writing candidate at the University of San Francisco,
where she was the poetry editor of
Switchback from 2014-2015.

On “Village Sketch”:
The impetus for “Village Sketch” came from an exercise I found
in the book
Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry (Dos Gatos
Press, 2011).  The exercise was designed by the poet Bruce
Snider, based on work by Keith Ekiss from his collection
Road Notebook
.  In a nutshell, using the prompt from the
exercise, I generated a list of memories, descriptions, and
observations about the small village in Vermont where I grew up.  
These were phrases and fragments with each line containing one
main statement.  After I had a substantial list, I played with the
ordering to find the most compelling sequence, eliminating those
lines which didn’t contribute enough to the whole.  I was
fortunate enough to have Bruce Snider read my first draft.  He
suggested more cuts, specifically lines which spoke to a
“coldness,” (Vermont does have long winters!) rather than the
“fire” and “heat” elements of the piece.   

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 11, Number 1
(Spring 2016)

Copyright © 2016
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

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