Pris Campbell, “Sleet”

Pris Campbell

Rare nights when sleet
fingerpainted our windows,
sent dogs skittering home
early to pant by the fire,
my superintendent father
drove our Chevy over roads
fortressing our town before
calling principals, teachers,
and bus drivers to cancel
the coming day’s classes.

Curled warm into wool blankets
we half slept as branches
creaked out ghost stories
to blackened stars and
shivering pines.

By dawn, the phone rang
constantly until word spread
that we could throw on warm pants
and sweaters, crunch out over
frozen grass to a friend’s
house for hot chocolate, Elvis
loving us tender on the record
player, and dream about futures
still far beyond frozen fingertips.

Author’s Comment: I grew up in a tiny one stoplight town in South Carolina in the late forties and fifties. We usually had around two or three sleet storms a year and, if we were lucky, one snowfall. There was no tv or radio announcement about school closings. In fact, many people didn’t have tv’s until well into the fifties.. As superintendant, my father made the final decision about whether the roads were safe enough, especially for people who had to be bused in from the countryside surrounding our town. After he’d taken his ride out in the dark, he first called the bus drivers and principals to cancel, then the word was spread by his calls to a pre-set group of teachers who each had their own list of other teachers or key people to call. Of course , not everybody in town could be called, so our phone rang nonstop as the sun rose with ‘Will there be school today?’. After the business was done, my friends and I always rushed out for a glorious day of freedom.

Bio: The poetry of Pris Campbell has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including PoetsArtists, Bicycle Review, Wild Goose Review, The Dead Mule, Outlaw Poetry Network and others. She has published seven books/chaps, two in collaboration with Scott Owens. Her most recent book is Shadows Trail Them Home, from Clemson University Digital Press (with Scott Owens). Her most sucessful individual book remains Sea Trails, from Lummox Press, an accounting in poems, log notes, comments, and photos of her trip down the east coast in a 22 foot sailboat in 1977. Her books can be seen as this link: . Formerly a Clinical Psychologist, she was sidelined by ME/CFS in 1990. She lives in the greater West Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband and still enjoys trips to sit by the sea.


5 thoughts on “Pris Campbell, “Sleet”

  1. This is a truly lovely poem, my favorite part being ” as branches / creaked out ghost stories / to blackened stars and / shivering pines.” I’ve only been in SC since ’91, but spent roughly a decade in the rural mountains and this rings so true it gives me goose bumps!

  2. A wonderful evocation of a childhood of long ago; you bring the scene to life with your usual careful choice of words. I always enjoy your poems!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s