Phibby Venable

There is a school of strange lessons on White Top Mountain
but on the first day they are patient and give chubby crayons
and coarse paper, and everyone draws a block house
with square windows
Thank you, they say, now go home
On the second day a peacock teaches class, it stands
in silent dignity and spreads its fan just once for effect
and all the students take notes and ponder
On the third day there is falling off at roll call and the teacher
reviews day one and two
He says, what did you see? and the students hesitate,
some saw a house with square windows and some saw people
mirrored in the windows and a peacock, a boring bird
that opened its tail just one, but some saw the bird transform
to God, and heaven glisten blue and green as feathers
Have you learned a hard lesson, the teacher said, but
many felt they had learned nothing and left, believing
the tax payer's money was wasted on White Top and
there was nothing to see
They found good jobs and made good money
while the others acknowedged life and dared living

"Live in Abingdon, Virginia. Degree in social work. Work with grant writing and reviews. One chapbook, Indian Wind Song. Proceeds of book donated to local elderly in need of indoor water and home repairs. Nominated for Governor's Award, won Va. Water Project Award, for most families served. (provided indoor plumbing and wells for Appalachian families). Published in national and international print and e-zine publications. Found homes for 34 stray dogs and 3 cats in the last two years. Now if i could find myself somewhere."