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The John Robert Doyle, Jr., Prize

Aly Goodwin
Spartanburg, SC

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When cousin Bill was struck in the eye with a stick

pulled from his mother's gardenia bush,

the only green thing in her Gaston County red clay yard,

hell-bent on escaping the whuppin he knew would follow,

he hid under the house with his daddy's pack of hounds

and laid low for three days, eating scraps

thrown to the dogs by his mother, distraught

over her missing boy, while the eye festered, then died.

He wore a black patch the rest of his life

and long after the violin scholarship at Juilliard,

long after the years as first chair

with the North Carolina Symphony,

he drove a dusty Buncombe County road

to my mother's nursing home a week before her death,

picked up his bow, pressed his face into the old

rosewood violin in a way not to disturb the patch,

and music leapt from that damn fiddle

like some dervish loosed

after two hundred years, whirl and tumble,

climb, implode, then up again in pulsing spirals:

Abide with Me and Skip to My Lou,

Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair,

Mozart.  He played Mendelssohn,

             although she slept through it all.

He left Mother his credit card on a bedside table

which forever struck me as odd

since she froze into fetal position a year before.

Law, that man could make dead seeds green,

                                           a nurse said,

                                 any dead seed bloom again.

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