by Kari Gunter-Seymour
My mama hates children and dogs.
Even her own. No matter that she makes
this clear, announces it regular.
Wherever she goes, there’s a child
or hound set to wallow her, as if
she smells of jelly beans or Alpo.
Manic, she will coo you penniless.
Depressed, she’ll peel the skin
off your face with nary a whip
of her curly head. Now she says,
I wanted to live seemly, set out to be kind,
reaches for her Bible. She says
Uncle Bub used to tickle her
up under her chin and otherwise
on whiskey nights. Says she and Fanny June
would build forts with kitchen chairs
and Grammie’s starflower quilt,
crawl deep inside, lure the cat
with baloney, lie side-by-side,
lock fingers in pinky swear,
hearts crossed, hoped he’d die.
* * * * *
"Ruby May" was first published in Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Volume XII and is part of Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collection A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020).
Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020) and Serving (Crisis Chronicles Press 2018/2020-Expanded Edition). Her work is firmly attached to her home soil and is an examination of the long-lasting effects of stereotype and false narratives surrounding Appalachians. Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications including Verse Daily, Rattle, Still, The NY Times and on her website: www.karigunterseymourpoet.com. She is the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year and Poet Laureate of Ohio.