The Orange Room Review

Accessible poetry of substance

Big Winter

by CL Bledsoe

Kids came from the whole neighborhood
to sled the big hill behind our house, usually
reserved for dove hunting, the occasional tumble, now
covered in a thick white. We’d cajole any adult sober
enough to drive to Hunt’s Tire Service
for a tractor tire inner-tube because the old man
wouldn’t sell them to kids—he knew
what we’d do as soon as we got home.
The boys pushed the girls before they were ready, bullied
and mocked the younger kids, vying for the record for longest
slide. We’d run inside the house for hot chocolate, take
turns in front of the butane heater playing Atari 2600
while our fingers thawed, then race back to the hill,
every year, the same group of us, perfecting our techniques,
inching farther and farther down the hill, into the valley.
Once, Keith Davis, an older boy all the girls went red around,
took a turn. We taunted him, tried to scare him with stories of sticks
popping the tube, kids flipping and sliding down on their faces;
don’t move, just lay down and let gravity do its thing. He listened,
serious and nodding, then he jumped on and slide down, across the valley
below to the frozen lake, and across most of that. A wave
of neighborhood girls plunged down to help him carry the inner-tube
back up smiling and waving while the boys grumbled.

CL BLEDSOE is the author of two poetry collections, _____(Want/Need) and Anthem. A third collection, Riceland, is forthcoming later this year. A chapbook, Goodbye To Noise, is available here. A minichap, Texas, is forthcoming from Mud Luscious Press. His story, "Leaving the Garden," was selected as a Notable Story of 2008 for Story South's Million Writer's Award. He is an editor for Ghoti Magazine ( He blogs at Murder Your Darlings,