Bluegrass State
Therese Gleason

Bluegrass State

I wasn’t born in Kentucky
but my mother was,
and my father is buried
in the red clay of the commonwealth
where I grew year to year
like the dogwood
he planted in the front yard
in the shadow of its moribund twin,
its snowy canopy
thinning each spring
until it succumbed
to heart rot.

O, make me a crown
of white dogwood blossoms,
a necklace of azalea,
and clover chains like those
my sisters and I linked and twisted
around our wrists and throats.
Clothe me in a watered silk gown
the gray-brown of the Ohio
embroidered with roiling waves.
Smear my cheeks
with the mud of its banks,
salt my brow and frizz my hair
in the humid air of the river valley.
Fill my pockets with crabapples
and buckeyes. Dress me
in everything but shoes
so I can sink my toes
into the bluegrass
that is neither green nor blue.

Therese Gleason

is the author of two chapbooks: Libation (co-winner, 2006 South Carolina Poetry Initiative Competition) and Matrilineal (Honorable Mention, 2022 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize). Her poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Indiana Review, New Ohio Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rattle, and elsewhere.