Two Poems

Michael Chitwood

First GradeMrs. Scott had left the classroomand Stevie said she was dead.They found her in the aisleat the grocery store with her shoes knocked off.We should still learn to spell the wordsfor the test on Friday, Cindy said.The desks were like cars in a train,each of us with our load of lettersexcept for Owen whose freight was something else.Mrs. Scott was behind the school burning trash.She had never left the room before during class.Owen got up and went to the window.He didn’t say what he saw.Mrs. Scott was riding a horse and jumping fences.A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N.At the end of the yearwhat would be left to learn, except cursive?Mrs. Scott was mailing a letter to her brother in service.He had killed a man the day before with his machine gunand liberty and justice for all.Lisa’s hair smelled like lemons and hung down her back to her waist.We should go get Mr. Harmon, she said.There were answers in Mrs. Scott’s desk, and hand lotion.When she came back she had a crumpled tissue.It looked like a moth.It Is What It IsIt isher memory like waterfinding the lowest places,the crazy-turn route,the trickle pathwhat itis now isthe day’s routinethe bath, the smoothie,the pillsisto be ninety-two yearsa daylearning guitar chordsto play a song at eveningwhen her father came in.

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Michael  Chitwood

Born in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Michael Chitwood lives and works as a writer and teacher in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

In Search and Rescue, Michael Chitwood seeks what the pagan Celts called the thin places, the spots where otherworldliness bleeds into the everyday. Beginning with childhood, the poet meditates on the intersection of the sacred and secular, on those luminous moments we can only partially understand. Water anchors the collection with the title poem, which explores the history of a large manmade lake and how it changes the surrounding mountain community. Displaying keen narrative skills and an engaging voice, the poems in Search and Rescue pay homage to Whitman and Dickinson, to Heaney and Wright, in pursuit of the everyday grace of Appalachian culture and the natural landscape.

“Michael Chitwood’s intense attention to the physical allows us into luminous spaces between sensation and imagination where one registers awareness beyond thought. As the poems of Search and Rescue penetrate the mysteries of unspoken experience, they steady us to watch, listen, smell, taste, touch what can be discovered in the barns and fields and machine shops of unnamed lives.”
—Debra Nystrom

“Michael Chitwood has long been one of my favorite poets, but this new volume has a range of technique and subject matter that takes his work to a whole new level.”
—Ronald Rash

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