The Voice, After All by Linda Parsons

Perched on my sleeve, tail flicked in my ear,
it’s the voice, after all, sonorous and open,
memory bubbling up from clay. Sound cupped
like a fledgling—my first husband silver throated
on the Americana station, the soft Tennesseeisms
of my second, liquid as the river he left me for.
The voice, bubbled freshet, lifeline branched
to hapless future, hard parting, the old ache
made flesh. I’d bottle it if I could, aged oak
casks, the best of times trebled forth. I’d drink
to the gills, awash in healing, a strike to the past,
perfect cast to shallows, hearing cocked to
flurried landings, carried on water’s chill breath.

Linda Parsons is a poet, playwright, and an editor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She served as poetry editor of Now & Then magazine for many years, and her work has appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Shenandoah, in Ted Kooser’s syndicated column American Life in Poetry, and in numerous anthologies. This Shaky Earth is her fourth poetry collection. Parsons’ adaptation, Macbeth Is the New Black, co-written with Jayne Morgan, was produced at Maryville College and Western Carolina University, and her play Under the Esso Moon was read as part of the 2016 Tennessee Stage Company’s New Play Festival and received a staged reading in spring 2017.