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Poem of the week: Cinders by Carol Townsend

By Carol Townsend Can you hear the rain of pea-sized grains sliding down the chute into the cellar bin? The whoosh of anthracite by the shovelful pitched during twice daily feeding frenzies? The roar of the furnace’s opened orange maw? In winter, pipes pinged as hot water sizzled up the metal maze setting iron a-clicking in all fourteen farmhouse rooms – which also meant ash to be emptied out, grit my father spread onto the drive, bordered by the snowball bush on one side, and on the other, a thicket of forsythia big enough to hide a bus. A warning in country quiet, cinders crunched under tires, caught in work boot cleats, the bane of mother’s existence when tracked across clean kitchen linoleum. In time, a basement oil burner was installed, blacktop laid, wider than the street out front, more like a boulevard, but not before I tripped. I still carry a fleck of gray under the flesh of my left knee, a talisman of the fall taken, proof positive of the tale I tell. Contributor’s Note: CAROL TOWNSEND will read from and sign copies of her new chapbook, “A Cinder In My Knee” (Buffalo Arts Publishing), at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Talking Leaves Books, 3158 Main St. She is an associate professor and former chairwoman of the Design Department at SUNY Buffalo State.

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