Three Poems

by Annie Woodford Issue: Spring 2015


The salamander in red eft
Spotted last year among the wood’s
Rain-soaked leaves,
Pulsing with a riddle I have yet to figure,
Will be full grown now
And hidden among moss and mud,
Its fragile glow gone
Except as an image I recall
Against the muted brown slopes,
The young and dripping trees―
A whole, humming Southeastern hillside,
Timbered at least twice,
But growing now,
Oaks rising above understory.

In the City Woods


That breathe 
                        Between school and asphalt lake, 
Virginia Creeper leaves fall first, 
Red negatives with saw-teeth edges

Against dull dirt. 

Roots rubbed smooth by bike tires cross the trail. 
Each leaf has been seen. 
These trees store a record 
Of the same floods as us in their rings. 

And yet, 
A warp and weft—
       Spider web, owl pellet, 
The scatter of shadows on box turtle’s back—
                                                                                    Occasionally gleams
Through the density 
Of dying green.

Days are still long. 
Half-grown fawns startle here. 
Grey foxes bide their invisible time, 
Sharp eyes dark stars.

Public Comment on the Reinstitution of Uranium Mining in Virginia


My cousin and I dug into the red dirt bank beside his house―
Pittsylvania County clay powder-dry those summer days.
We would unearth white rocks, crystalline in structure,
Sometimes remarkably clear, like salt (or diamonds, we thought),
If we rubbed a spit-wet finger over them.

Across the road, the last of the lime green tobacco grew.
HBO was new.
My uncle caught it all in the white mitt of his satellite dish.
Heat lightning played in a distant landscape,
Wider than my own foothills home almost an hour away.

The earth undulated toward the coastal plain.
Tree lines at the edge of cultivated fields shimmered in the heat.
My cousin’s tall dog, Tilly—half-shepherd, half-husky,
Long-legged like a young wolf—loped with us as we played,
Her steady eyes mirthful and, in memory at least, almost blue.

The clouds unfolded noiselessly
Over the sun-browned back of my cousin’s neck
And all the while, less than a mile as the crow flies,
Potential energy―primeval, dusty mouthed―
Hummed a cracked Geiger tune.

Annie Woodford is originally from Henry County, Virginia. A graduate of Hollins College’s MA program in Creative Writing, she now lives in Roanoke City, Virginia and teaches developmental English at Virginia Western Community College. Her poetry has been published in Appalachian Heritage.