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Summer 2020 Poetry Contest Winner: Rebecca Dettorre

Rebecca D


Rebecca Dettorre has lived in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee.  Nostalgia is her curse and blessing, bringing her home.

Fort Steuben Bridge

Nineteen-seventy-four, it rained
all summer. At least that’s
what I remember. I was eleven.
Each week our father piloted
a Buick with the family, all seven,
across state lines for Sunday
dinner, the towns divided
by a river. Each week,
I noted the water rise,
treetops gradually submerged
on steep banks, imagining
the Ohio reaching asphalt
on both sides of rusted
graceless two-laned metal
with four-wheeled ferries
at a standstill waiting
for the light to change.
Fathers were stoic, gripping
leather, anticipating meatloaf
or chicken. Children were silent,
dull skies and flat clouds forward and aft.
Mothers hummed softly to a
crooner, voice made tinny
by rolled up windows and am radio.

The Women of Lake Winnott

The wood is gathered, dry,
ready to burn.
Weeks of collecting downed
boughs from live oaks,
pine cones and needles in
the mix. We crumple
thin paper torn from a roll
to place in spaces
then light it. The tinder
catches fast, fierce
hot flames shoot up, shower
sparks, our faces glow.
An owl hoots, the moon
is nearly full. Our voices
raise and lower, we
talk about our neighbor,
not here, sexy at seventy,
gray hair, dark eyes, body
submerged in a garden tub
mid-day, surprised by a visitor,
one of us. “There she is!”
Someone shouts, and we see her
on the path, summoned in the firelight,
until she is gone back into the night.
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