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Summer 2008
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Author: Willie K. Everhart
Location: Cripple Creek, Virginia

diamond icon Willie K. Everhart received her MA in English from Radford University in Radford, Virginia, where she now serves as an instructor of freshman composition and American literature. An ardent Appalachianist, she has been published in a number of local and regional literary magazines, including EXIT-109 and ALCA-LINES. A writer of both long and short fiction, poetry remains her first love. A widow, she and her bassett hound, Buddy, currently reside by a mountain stream that sings her to sleep each night with a lullaby of waters.

Shag's Flag

Shag would be an old man now.
Maybe he'd live by the creek,
or maybe on the mountain.
His eyes would shine
when his grandchildren visited
and on Sundays,
he could put flowers
on his mother's grave.
He might whittle
while he listened to the patter
of rain tapping the tin roof
of his front porch
and remember
adventures untold,
jungle heat,
battles won and lost.
He would have seen
an endless stream
of graduations,
births and deaths
the comings and goings
of all his friends.

But ...
Shag's been under the hill since '70.
His flag blows,
tattered by the wind,
and I pass him daily
on my ride to work.
He does not bend
to soothe the head
of a barking dog
or lift a hand
to wave a cheery greeting.
Only a few of us remember
that he had black, curly hair
and blue eyes that glinted in the sun,
or that he's the one
who stole that Frye boy's sneakers
and threw them atop the wagon bridge
to dry rot in his last summer's heat.
Some of us can see
his broad shoulders strutting
down the street,
his head held proudly
sporting his green beret.
I remember the pieces of him
returned from Vietnam
and another flag in a box
perched on the mantle
in his old house.

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