Marianne Worthington - "Minor Detour Through an Old Knoxville Neighborhood," "Snapshot," and "Summit."

Minor Detour Through an Old Knoxville Neighborhood


The apartment complex

at Arbor Place where I shared


a one-bedroom with my cousin

bears the derelict face of abuse.


Doors and windows missing
or kicked in reveal the shadowed


faces of a few squatters, their wary

eyes are abandoned rooms.


The fear of ruin stings

my throat.  What happened


to my old neighborhood where half

a block away the bungalows root


in the manicured lawns like oaks

and in one of those houses


I studied piano with a gentle

man who stood behind me


and pushed my shoulders down

and said breathe here and


pianissimo and rubato, rubato,

as I played the Raindrop Prelude?






on the porch, black

oaks shade the heads of two

women, look-alikes in paisley




Spider-veined legs

plump into boxy shoes,

clodhopping leftovers of farm

girls who


once shared

a bed.  Their men

drank, diddled, and died young.

Their hands are liver-spotted, gnarled,





Every couple of weeks

she buys a 25-pound sack

of Dollar Store dog food,

stops on the ridgetop road

between her house and town,

slits the bag open with her

pearl-handled pocketknife,

gleaming sharp in morning light,

leaves the food for all the stray dogs

she sees on this daily journey.

They are dropped off like litter

in a town without a pound.

She can’t bring home any more

than the half-dozen she’s saved

already, can’t bear for them to starve.

Their somber eyes know her,

their reflections chasing

her in the rear-view mirror.


Marianne Worthington is a poet and educator living in Williamsburg, Kentucky.  Her poetry chapbook, Larger Bodies Than Mine (Finishing Line Press, 2006), won the 2007 Appalachian Book of the Year in Poetry Award.  Her work has appeared in Shenandoah, Natural Bridge, Louisville Review, Wind, Arts Across Kentucky, Kaleidoscope, Appalachian Heritage, and in several anthologies including Knoxville Bound, A Kentucky Christmas, and Women.Period.  She is editor of Motif: Writing by Ear, an anthology of writings related to music, forthcoming in 2008 from MotesBooks. 

Posted on December 7, 2013 .