Issue > Poetry
Valencia Robin

Valencia Robin

Valencia Robin is currently completing her MFA at the University of Virginia. She is the winner of the 2014 Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations, Clover-A Literary Rag and the poetry anthology, Follow the Thread.

Dutch Elm Disease


When Danny Johnson's big brother was killed in Vietnam
Danny ran around the block five times. I counted. Ran
as if when he stopped his brother would be back in their driveway
washing his car. But nobody knew anything about time travel
back then, Star Trek hadn't even come out, Lieutenant Uhura
still on Broadway doing Blues for Mr. Charlie. And even if Danny
did understand the space-time continuum, his parents
weren't having it, his mother on the porch yelling
his name, his father tackling him on the front lawn, all us kids,
the whole block standing there on pause. Which didn't exist
either. No fast forward, no reverse. We weren't even Black
yet. Was Milwaukee even Milwaukee? Is the Lincoln Park Bridge
still there, do boys like Danny still climb over the rail,
hug their bony knees to their narrow chests and plop into the river
as if there's no way his parents could lose two children?  
Which is all I know about Vietnam, that and the way the sun hung
in the faded sky as Danny ran around and around
and held the air hostage, that and the way the thick, August air
ignored the leaves of all our doomed Dutch Elm Trees
and let itself be held hostage. The streets were like ghosts
when they cut down those trees.

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