by Matthew Gilbert

The mountains are good places

to remember. The slog of boot prints

through rocky paths, burrs and char

of summer burnings sticking

to your clothes, legs lichened

with scabbed over switch stripes.

They won’t let you forget:

years of catching your breath

when rain pushed you downward,

or slipping gravity of muddy banks,

branches snapping under your weight,

body of a broken songbird

pushed too early—pale wings flap.

You scoop it in your hands,

calm it with slow, steady rhythm.

The flutter doesn’t last to the summit.

You mark it under a pile of twigs.

This is the song of mountains,

true as open air. The world

will never know those blood stains.

Rain begins to wash them away.


Matthew Gilbert is a native Virginian turned Tennessean who enjoys writing that pushes the boundaries between writing and lived experience. His works appears in Delta Poetry Review and Across the Margin, among others, and his work is forthcoming in The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol IX: Virginia, and I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices. Find him on Twitter @GilbertMatthewL