Beverly Hennessy Summa

From Arrowhead to Swizzle Stick  

The craggy and overgrown property in the back
hosts several species of tress: oak, birch, hickory & white ash.
I think the giant, old oak has been here
since around the time when this town got its name.
I like to imagine it as a tender seedling,
cossetted by sunlight and damp spring soil,
in the years when the last of The Lenape
still roamed these hillocks and waterways.

Soon after we moved here, my father came for a visit.
Bent over with shovel or trowel, he’d dig for hours,
unearthing rocks that had been fashioned into crude tools.
With a cigarette suspended between his lips,
he’d demonstrate the tools’ apparent uses,
pointing out the smooth, concave surfaces
that supported a thumb for scraping or mashing,
even finding a stone with the carved face
of an unidentifiable animal or bird.
My young son would declare it a tiger, not grasping
the impossible absurdity of his nomenclature.

Beyond these indigenous artifacts, that I will admit,
most would pass by for being little more than common rocks,
we found signs of other early life—
one that predated the weekly garbage pickup
by at least a generation or two.
Past the flowerbeds, beneath loose soil,
a field of broken glass & rusted cans,
waiting to pierce the imprudent paw or sneaker.
This antediluvian trash would become a landmine
or treasure trove, depending on what we found.

Among the camouflaged wires,
snaking through the loam like gangly fingers
from shallow graves, we dug out vase-perfect milk bottles,
tarnished spoons & heavy, turn-of-the-century chalices,
whose Victorian durability had outlived any desired use.
Each discovery becoming a sort of resurrection
and sometimes dangerous reminder
that our yard was once the local landfill.

It was just last week when a neighbor
told me Soupy Sales had once lived on the property.
It’s a story I like but have not verified.
Though I feel certain I stumbled into Soupy’s garbage
while planting the irises this past fall.
My trowel turning up an Aqua-Maid swizzle stick—
a well-turned, nudie diver of a grapefruit pink,
with pointed toes and sleepy face.
I’m still hoping to find the complete set.

Beverly's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Chiron Review, Hobo Camp Review, the New York Quarterly, Buddhist Poetry Review, Trailer Park Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy and others.  She has a BA in English and is a Pushcart nominee.  Beverly is the owner of a music school and store that she operates with her husband.  She grew up in Yonkers, New York and New Hampshire and currently resides in South Salem, New York with her family.   


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