Many people say
they have never seen
a ghost, but they
are wrong. Look up.
Betelgeuse, the red star
on Orionʼs shoulder
is a shade past dead,
going to glory in a radiant
blast of stellar matter.
We will not know for five
hundred years, when
a rude and piercing light
will illuminate us, like
a funerary telegram
left on the doorstep.
The sky is a memory,
a wraith made of moments,
of a thousand undead
eons and the feathery
headstones of the lost.
Fog in the Bluegrass
Fog sulks like lint, languishing
in these happy green plains:
This land has no soul.
Hadesʼ scars crack mountains,
marks of old violence,
the deep-seated hate
of drifting plates, now off
to squabble elsewhere.
The green peaks slice clouds,
gouge cotton underbellies
with their mossy fingernails.
I like to watch the dark guts of storms
(that ripped off shingles and skin)
spill out onto the valley floor.
The mountains move in the fog,
as everyone knows. Vanish
and reappear a smidge to the left,
an eyelash to the right.
No one sees them move,
but they are alive and fey in the mist,
devouring the dying thunder.
This plain is smothered
by comparison: the sky holds
a gauzy pillow over her face.
She is dead and still
beneath the rolling clouds.
The Big Bang
The dark of the mountain is a passage
through the trembling shadows of trees
as we rampage down the crunching trail.
Past the guardrail is only black
as if the world has fallen away and we
are all that remains of existence,
caught between one hairpin turn
and another damp limestone wall
still weeping under the weight of centuries.
Fireball explodes into the night, a house
in flames beneath the shuddering leaves.
The light stings like Venus on a clear night,
but only redshifted fingers grasp for us,
filled with desperation to fill up the dark,
to bring a word like sparks to the empty air.
The orange doorframe hangs slack-jawed,
seared pure in the terrible, fluttering blast,
caught somewhere between death and ecstasy,
between everything and nothing, as if
the God himself were speaking from the fire.
Elizabeth Dunston is a public librarian, cat owner, and lifelong reader. While she grew up in southeastern Kentucky, she didn’t realize how much she loved Appalachia until she moved to central Kentucky and was far from the mountains she cherished as a child. Now she writes about them to keep them close.