My Granny's Island

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Contributor: Clyde Kessler

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My granny dreamed a shooting on an island
where nobody lived. A moonrise lugged the shore
towards our boat, and it was the barren light
that surfaced onto the old woman while she slept
that reminded me that I was hungry again.
She told me to peel some turnips by the campfire.
My daddy was too drunk to remember how.
And there were no turnips anywhere, just mud crabs
and one flighty rail sneaking towards the reeds.
I was little, and watched the smoky embers sizzle
in the lake, more like wild orange fish eyes
anchored somewhere on a huge monster’s head.
I wanted to dream something, so I imagined the sand
walking up like a soldier holding candy in his helmet.
I told my granny how sweet the chocolate was.
Then she said a stray bullet would hit somebody.
The sunrise might push him right over us like snags.
The lake was cold all morning. I dreamed a rifle
aimed at our boat. We all felt more than dead
with our lives as we snuck into the world again.

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I live in Radford, VA with my wife Kendall and our son Alan. I'm a founding member of Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an environmental education organization with programs and projects in western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia. BRDC can be "discovered" at


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