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Tony Gentry

Vanishing Point – a poem

Updated: May 17

Buddy splashing in the creek behind our house turns up an arrowhead stubby quartz chipped to fit a twig pierce a buck’s tawny hide.

There that maw in the hillside where some ancestor mined for gold.

Rusted wire in the woods where sheep grazed in the day.

I went home to say goodbye to my brother who lay dying in our late parents’ bedroom couldn’t take it had to go outside and poking around in the back field where we’d raised chickens once kicked up a rotten bucket a corroded canister what’s this?

So here I am at ten this July day swatting shuttlecocks with him taking turns churning the salt and ice packed peaches and cream until our father dips a finger licks the custard spits disgusted.

The can had leaked. See him set himself to hurl the whole kit and caboodle over the back fence. (Mama opens a bag of Oreos.)

Well, here the moment lay weed sewn and half buried in the red earth even that hand crank that had chafed my knuckles on its side.

In Virginia sometimes to stretch our legs we wander Civil War battlefields visualize for instance how close the farm boys crouched facing off like carnival ducks at Cold Harbor. Once in a while you’ll see an old man in earphones divining the lawn with his wand in search of a minie ball a button some more than storied proof of one episode on this or that ageless acre.

And the night Mama died. She’d been in coma for weeks at the nursing home in Fork Union built on the farm where she was born. I left there in tears before dawn stopped short in the parking lot by a herd of cows chewing cud among the cars a film overlay made of now and then as if they’d wandered up from childhood to low her on.

Buddy cocks his head to wonder why I linger in the ankle deep stream with this little shard of quartz. He doesn’t care that we live in a lap dissolve, flies in amber that is only sugar melting.

The point at which receding parallel lines seen in linear perspective seem to meet.

An article on a new book of photography in this morning’s Washington Post sent me down this rabbit hole! Here’s the article.

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