I Must Be Born Again
a love poem for the Brier
I want to walk up into your land by taking the creek,
slogging, stream-wise, into your acreage,
since I can’t get there no other way.
Skirts hitched around my knees,
a pair of water-logged sneakers
making me sure-footed on slick rocks,
I’ll go in through sycamores,
the roadbed of what I won’t get.
I’ll never be a speckled trout, crawdad,
coyote lapping stars in dark water.
But I hear the bent note of your vowels
from somewhere cedars sleep,
the only way there through stone
and stream, the bank overhung
by rhododendrons so thick
everything is shadow, moss, & water-song.
And you wouldn’t know the creek was here
unless you knew the creek was here
or could follow, underneath the wind
shifting the trees & your own loud steps
in leaves, a pouring sound.
Those Factories had Heart-Pine Floors
When I think of all the wood and people we’ve wasted,
the piles of fire-bent metal stacked almost as high as the buildings that burned,
I want to make these words into a handmade knife,
tapped together in a backyard shed in Bassett or Fieldale.
Or a skirt sewn without a store-bought pattern,
lined with a scrap of golden polyester my grandmother would have prized.
Or a bird dog with a mouth so soft no training quail ever died.
The loom and the finishing room held us in their spell.
The lathe turned and turned, but we didn’t listen.
We took all the overtime we could get.
Demijohn: Bent Mountain
We got stoned in the soft
fronds of a species of tree
we slowly realized is not native
to these mountains—dawn
redwoods part of the last
landowner’s court-ordered remediation
for scraping the creek banks clean.
Still young enough
is uncertain, if they do live,
just one will fill up this bend,
a cathedral of needles falling,
come cold weather.
In the interlocking pattern
of the woods, the last hemlocks
the fine white web
of the insect killing them
only heightening their evergreen glaze.
deep in the Appalachians,
perhaps not far from this gorge
where a pipeline will cross
Bottom Creek at least eighty times,
some folks say a few chestnut trees
resistant to blight and hidden
from all but the few who knew
how to find them, time in trees
stretching wide as turkey vulture wings.
People used to pose on the fallen
tombs of their trunks.
of wormy chestnut can cost
over a thousand dollars these days.
On a map for the proposed pipeline
route, there is a Blast Zone, an Evacuation
Zone, a geologic explanation for Karst
which means everything
seeps through these mountains,
in Bottom Creek so cold your heart
seems to stop every time
you get wet,
nymph-quick in late spring,
despite sediment slicking the rocks,
while underwater, the orange flowers
of crawdads bloom in the dark.
Under the water water
flows, an aquifer wider
than the Great Road.
The folks who know know
to watch out for rattlers when
they reach into rhododendrons,
or step, from one cool stone to another.
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