after Mari L’Esperance
Of blue hills with faces pillowed in cloud.
Of mines. Your daddy’s lunchbox. A gold bird
Unlatching a song for no one left to hear.
Of water. Kanawha brown, Monongahela blue,
The Cheat and the New. Saying their names,
Hands rubbing together, hillbilly incantation.
Of fellowship on Sundays. Baked apple pies
And the September revival. The snakes
Smoothing your skin the one weekend a year
You could dance. Praise Jesus. Praise the old land.
Of knees rubbed with red dirt. The man
You never saw. The knife to your belly.
The neighbor calling for his dog, coming
Over, finding you still there, still shaking.
Of the man you loved like the river.
Of your daughters. Of the boy smudged
With crows. Of years edged in coal and salt.
The long, last winter. A field of white moths,
The day you left. Of roses. Of darker
Roses. Bells in the distance, coming close.