In the gilded shade of Pound Mountain, near Wise,
the live and laurel oak understory dilutes the daylight.
In a clearing the smaller boys of green summer collide.
Jackie Wright signals he's scored. Raises both arms.
Maybe a few touchdowns isn't triumph over much,
but to imagine these Appalachian children should
be seen and not heard is to miss the bright hour.
Earlier, he solo-swam a waterhole a strip mine
carved out at a place which, in July, isn't deadly,
if you overlook the nuisance snakes showing up
and speeding the last pulse of Independence Day.
Just now, local kids have sprinted to rhapsodize
about undiscovered country by the road. They
chucked the football as he shook himself dry
like a wet dog. They'd formed teams. Ran.
Open for a Hail Mary, he bellowed, Thow it!
He had raced, striding in the severed light.
One-handing a toss he should've missed.
Now, Jackie's fingers sting like belonging
and he lets the football drop and upraises
thin 6-year-old arms to say he's ecstatic.
Roy Bentley is the author of Starlight Taxi (Lynx House: 2013), which won the 2012 Blue Lynx Poetry Prize. Books include The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine: 2006), which was the winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize in 2005, Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books: 1992), and Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama: 1986), which won the 1985 University of Alabama Press Poetry Series. Recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA, six Ohio Arts Council fellowships, and a Florida Division of Cultural Affairs fellowship, poems have appeared in the Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Rattle and elsewhere.