Hole Mill Inn | Sam Barbee

Branscomb
− Devon

By eventide, stars crawl
the horizon at Branscomb-by-the-Sea.
Miles into a valley,
waits Hole Mill Inn, a Tudor cottage:
ivy supports stone walls,
and roses prop banisters
around a slate verandah.
A stream spins a water wheel.

Our host informs me:
We have a fox
out there. He filched the rooster.
Our children rollick with white geese
and downy chicks tumble into a pond.
The gander drags himself over dew
to protect them, hip failing him,
wingspan still wide, but
the proprietor picks him up
and pens him:
good old fellow
gets stuck in the flowers –
makes a mess of them, you know.

Downstream, eel and trout cut water.
My children brave the bog,
mud to their ankles,
and pluck glowworms and newts.
I kneel on grass beside the gander
to witness his world from a granite stoop.
He honks to summon his flock
and they return to his domain.
Lilacs and geraniums nod
as slugs emerge onto stones.
I call out as children
venture into the bramble.
Moon powders the garden.


Sam Barbee’s poems have appeared Poetry South, The NC Literary Review, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina, Georgia Journal, Kakalak, and Pembroke Magazine, among others; plus on-line journals Vox Poetica, Sky Island Journal, Courtland Review and The Blue Hour.

His second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016.  He was awarded an “Emerging Artist’s Grant” from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); has been a featured poet on the North Carolina Public Radio Station WFDD; received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society for his poem “The Blood Watch“; and is a Pushcart nominee.

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