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Winter/Spring 2019

Reaching Repton Mill


by Kim Harvey


Follow Beautiful Run. You’ll find it
          almost in the ravine. Take
                    the dirt road past sycamore

trees then walk a ways through the tall
          grass and weeds and you’ll see
                   a mill house forty by forty feet

covered in kudzu and ivy where my great-great
          grandfather once worked
                    and slept. Built five stories high

on sandstone and granite quarried from
          the Massanutten mountains, boulders
                    hauled across ridges and gorges by oxen

and slaves who also walled up the dam by hand,
          rock by rock, set the wooden overshot
                    wheel, scaled steep steps

to grind the grain, laid the lean-to
          shingle roof, now sinking under
                    the weight of time. Look up

at two small windows staring back like blank
          eyes, battered rafters roosting
                    a flock of black vultures who squawk

and grunt, guarding their young. Watch out
          for copperheads skulking in the vast
                    crabgrass. See chickweed and dandelion

rising up through cracks in the warped floor,
          how spiderwebs cloak its hulking
                    timber, white flour dust thick as frost.

Throughout its life, sold for debts,
          one chancery suit to the next.
                    Held for a stretch and then lost.


*With thanks to the Virginia W.P.A Historical Inventory Project and the Virginia Conservation Commission, April 14, 1937.


[More poems by Kim Harvey]

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