and Crazy People
never heard of it
but Mama lived in Hanging Limb
most all her life. Itty bitty place
with a big old oak tree
and a limb that stuck way out.
The hanging limb.
Theyd lynch a man and leave
him up 'til he rotted.
My granny was crazy and Grampa
got shell shocked in the war.
Not enough sense between them
to raise chiggers, much less young uns,
but theyd troop out under that oak
and point to the hanged man.
Mamad seen the shadow of a rope,
twisting and swaying way over her head
in the mortal drone of a million flies.
When I was a little un, a boy
threw a snake at me.
Wrapped round my back
and I swear they done heard me scream
clear up to Blue Hollow,
way across the creek.
To this day I swear Ill kill anybody
throws a snake. The slither of it
on my bare back never did go away.
Never will, neither.
Like Mama still hears those flies
buzzing like a hive of bees
near the hanging limb.
Sometimes she sees a row
of turkey buzzards, hunched
in the top of that tree, their bald
ugly heads turned her way.
Papenhausen is the author of two dozen short stories in print
and online. She has also written two novels, published by ebooksonthe.net,
a royalty-paying publisher. Her poetry appears in several journals.
She is a Fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts,
Sweet Briar, Virginia. Papenhausen was born in Chicago and now
lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.