by William Greenway

And for all this, nature is never spent.
“Pied Beauty,” Gerard Manley Hopkins


Green, green as moss, veins
slag heaps, the gutter of river already
purifies itself, grass brims
potholes, oozes the foundations
of empty buildings and foundry stacks
like nails in wood.  Earth’s
a dead stump sprouting over and eating
iron, digesting slick steel back
to red dirt.  What else heals its burns
with skin of flowers?  Whose hair comes back
thick and green?  Raccoons have found
the sewers, march single file
through the dawn streets.


I came late, after your
bad luck to be beautiful
and rich.  Sooty men couldn’t
get enough, plowing in deep,
digging down.  Just about pulled
your bones out.  Then when you
were broke and beat up, they took
off.  But in the right light on
summer evenings, do you look
half bad?  And smell good?
Hell, you’re still young.

William Greenway is the author of eleven collections of poetry. His most recent, The Accidental Garden, is forthcoming from Word Press. He is also the co-editor (with Elton Glaser) of I Have My Own Song For It: Modern Poems of Ohio (University of Akron Press, 2002). Greenway’s poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner. He has won the Helen and Laura Krout Poetry Award, the Larry Levis Editors’ Prize from Missouri Review, the Open Voice Poetry Award from The Writer’s Voice, the State Street Press Chapbook Competition, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, and was 1994 Georgia Author of the Year. He is a Professor of English at Youngstown State University, where he has taught since 1986, and where he has thrice been awarded Distinguished Professorships in both teaching and scholarship.