J.T. Ledbetter

Down by the River
August 21, 2020 Ledbetter J.T.

Down by the River

Down by the river behind the barn
was where it happened—
nobody asked me why or when/some said they knew why
and told my parents they knew all along
Since then the farm has gone into wild duckweed and a stand of pin oaks
where the milk house stood
There have been times when I wondered just why it happened
and if it could have been prevented: right kind of food? More church?
fewer beatings with the razor strap hanging by the picture of Jesus in the Garden…
There may be books on the subject/with pictures
(there are always pictures in a thing like this my aunt said)
and there are things one remembers… “I think I always saw that in him…”
or a girl somewhere who says “I could have saved him…”
Down by the river behind what was a barn
is a narrow ditch that runs under old 41
so far nobody wants to walk under an old road
and it’s dark and…/though there was a man said he would do it
but his wife said no…
It’s hard to know what if anything one would find there
Isn’t it

Among J.T Ledbetter’s credits are POETRY, PLOUGHSHARES, AMERICAN LITERARY REVIEW, THE SOUTHERN REVIEW, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, POET LORE, and others.  His poems often concern people and farms who are  beat down by poor crops and bad weather. Charles Van Doren calls Ledbetter’s work “a report of a vanishing world that was always achingly inarticulate and therefore of violent. Heart.” His latest collection is OLD AND LOST RIVERS, Lost Horse Press.