Gilbert Allen is the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature at Furman University. Some of his most recent poems and stories appear in Able Muse, Appalachian Heritage, Appalachian Journal, Flyway, The South Carolina Review, and The Southern Review.
— December 1978
The day before Mom’s funeral, like bats,
they fluttered in at sunset — Joseph, Tom,
Steve, Oscar, Henry, Eddie, John, and Bart.
Hungover and determined, they’d all come
from central Pennsylvania, in two cars.
They trudged into my father’s house — little
men, stooped from mining anthracite, eight dwarfs
in search of their first ending, single file.
So long they’d told the story of eleven
brothers and sisters. My father served them shots
and beers past midnight — when, praise be to Heaven,
they all staggered out. Their unlit cigarettes,
their wrinkled faces broken umbrellas
stained with rain, for their lost Cinderella.