Hilda Downer grew up in Bandana, North Carolina, beside the oldest mica mine in the world.  She works as a psychiatric nurse and an English teacher at Appalachian State University.  Currently, she lives in Sugar Grove, North Carolina where she has raised two sons, Branch, and Meade, who are respectively an artist and a fiddler.



Branch’s Studio

I used to wonder what an earthworm thinks about.
Do single celled organisms love?
Infant eyes scanned the field -
ant - Appalachian infinity symbol
or white clover seeded with light -
what eclipsed your mind?
I would never know
when I checked on your sleeping breath
the dreams beyond my reach.

After all these years,
a skylight allows
the illumination of a moon’s thumbprint
to measure how big or small our lives are
amid the trajectory of paintings
across the white wall of your studio.
Color holds back the nearest black hole.
Lavendar curves blue worn mountains.
Purple shadows the bark of poplar trunks.
Rocky crags confront the Watauga River,
the waters of all your life,
its boulders as the geoglyphs of my soul,
where emphatic white water reiterates
a spiral’s meaning that loss intends resurrection. 
In my own rotation, 
slower than a planet that no longer exists,
paintings are the proof,
like the negatives of a film,
of what we have seen and loved
and together forever.



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