“What Used to Be There” by Trent Busch

Trent Busch


Now, no one lives on the ridges;
houses up the hollow have slumped
into themselves and rabbits feed
above on grass in the cemetery.

After my father’s stroke, they put
him in a kind of harness at
the rehabilitation center,
advised a trip out for dinner.

On TV, which he can’t follow,
the sitcoms are about families
we don’t recognize, unfamiliar
as the reruns of The Waltons.

In the rockers on the porch I talk
to him of the willows breaking
into green above the swollen  
creeks, redbuds pinking the hardwoods.

I could just as well be talking
about a dried-up town where there
was only the taste of salt for
daughters, the saccharine need for

working sons, where wearing a life
was tuneless, decent nights and days 
with no thought of memorial.
I could just as well be silent.

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Tribute to Appalachian Poets


Trent Busch: “I have published over 400 poems and most of them are based on my growing up in rural West Virginia. In fact, my latest book is called West Virginians. When I write, I can never get away from that Appalachian influence.”

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