“I am Appalachia. In my veins
Runs fierce mountain pride; the hill-fed streams
Of passion; and, stranger, you don’t know me!
…How can you find rapport with me –
You, who never stood in the bowels of hell,
Never felt a mountain shake and open its jaws
To partake of human sacrifice?…
You, who never stood on a high mountain,
Watching the sun unwind its spiral rays;
Who never searched the glens for wild flowers,
Never picked mayapples or black walnuts; never ran
Wildly through the woods in pure delight,
Nor dangled your feet in a lazy creek?
You, who never danced to wild sweet notes,
Outpouring of nimble-fingered fiddlers…
I am Appalachia; and, stranger,
Though you’ve studied me, you still don’t know.”
“It is the indecision of a seesaw. The wood chips. You told me never again live in
tender. The wood has grain as if I could engrave. For you a monkey bar. For me
straw and light. For you the scurry of an ant. The sky spreads out like an arm…”
“My uncle is skinning peaches for cobbler because I stink
like city, he says, like iron and exhaust and a girl should know
the taste of something with the sun still inside it, because when I leave
this house and go back to my mama and she breathes me in
he wants me to smell like she used to, like dirt….”
“My sister calls all birds suicidal.
Our mother sits in her big green chair,
too weary, even, to talk on the phone.
All afternoon it’s rained and rained—
all the damp world weeping, so I’ve thought.
Self-pity stinks, my mother says…”