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"Gypsum Hills"

"I am slow going over the backs of my mother and father"

Published onDec 20, 2023
"Gypsum Hills"

Photo by Ryan Clark

The gypsum hills of Old Greer
are great turtles with backs
of green and dug in
with red cuts in the shell,
white gypsum bone
poking through and shining.

The green meshed with the orange red
of the iron-rich clay
resembles a Putt-Putt golf course
as bright and beautiful as home.

I am slow going over the backs
of my mother and father returning
home to sleep in the roundedness
of the blood and the gypsum bone rolling together.

The hills flatten
out past the road to Vinson,
and dipping again, but there is
no more gore here, only subdued and jagged
with green patches and brief spires
poking through wounds in the prairie
healing for thousands of years.

Ryan Clark is an Old Greer County native and documentary poet who writes his poems using a unique method of homophonic translation. He is the author of Arizona SB 1070: An Act (Downstate Legacies, 2021) and How I Pitched the First Curve (Lit Fest Press, 2019), and his poetry has appeared in such journals as DIAGRAM, Yemasse, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Interim. After many years teaching creative writing in rural Iowa, he now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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