Laura Long

Child in Forgotten Orchard


A child wandering in a clutch of apple trees

puzzles over the lichen that flakes the trunks


in patches of fur, the pale green echoed

on a penny she finds in the dirt. A bird


breaks into her wondering–flutters

down and disappears into the long dry grass,


rises to land on a twig and drops again.

She knows the bird as a blur as she waits


for the grownups next to the ruined house

to end their argument about who the hell


owns this place. Then, just before the bird darts

into sky, it flies so close to her eyes the wings whirr


—flitty as dust—through her heart. She stands agog

in a strange old world, broken open, breathing.


Laura Long co-edited Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia (WVU P, 2017), and she is author of the lyrical novel Out of Peel Tree (WVU P, 2016), finalist for three book awards; and two poetry collections, The Eye of Caroline Herschel: A Life in Poems‘(2013) and Imagine a Door (2009). Her writing has received a James Michener Fellowship and other awards, and appears in Shenandoah, Southern Review and other magazines. She teaches at University of Lynchburg in Virginia.