“Valoury Delia” and “Appalachia Song” by Bart Sides

I.

VALOURY DELIA

Va’delia, a polio, grew up
at village edge,
wearing heavy steel leg braces
with sweat-stained leather bands
that pulled stocking runs
up her legs, and
walked with aluminum
elbow crutches
from which any shine
had long worn away.
In our wood-floored school,
sweet with banana oil,
we heard her before
seeing her,
as the chink-swish
of crutch plant and dragging feet
preceded around corners
and behind
closed doors.
She fell once, that I saw,
and uncomfortable girls and boys
parted like Levites
around where she lay
until I helped her up,
brushing off her books,
knowing we were more alike
than appeared.

 

II.

APPALACHIA SONG

Mourning melodies harmonize
With me, a song sung softly
In the breeze: Appalachia

ᏗᏍᎪᏂᎯ  ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᏗ  ᎡᏧᎳᎭ
ᏙᏥᏃᎩᎠ,  ᎧᏃᎩᏍᏗ  ᎧᏃᎩᏗ  ᏙᎢ
ᎦᏃᎸᏍᎬᎢ

Di s go ni hi di ka no gi s di e tsu la ha
Do tsi no gi a ka no gi s di ka no gi di to i
Ga no lv s gv i: ap a la cha*

*Cherokee translation by Loretta J. Slade, first language speaker, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

 

Bart Sides is a teacher, poet, fly fisher and tie-er, bluegrass banjo picker, and BBQ pitmaster (though not always in that order). Reared in Southern Appalachia, he lives in Central New England with his wife of 48 years and four cats.

 

**Featured image from The Barbara H. Hagan School of Nursing – Historical Collection. 2018. “Double Leg Brace – 2” from Molloy University, creative commons

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