Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bent Mountain

            Watch them, ‘round they go.
            I straighten my legs and lean back for the ride.
                        ‘Tis always fun as they fly down the narrow road where we once walked.
                        (We ran, too, and kissed leaning against the sweetgum,
                         your burnished fingers lifting me swiftly,
                        my toes dripping clay from the creekbed.)

But, Oheka. The mountain of the Tutelo.
Full of surprises for the sojourner.
            As I said, quickly down the thin lane
            then whoosh
                                    and around
                                                            and down
                                                                                    then up again
            breaths held/breaths echoing down
                        dark green slides of pine and bear and berry.

Watch how the children laugh, eyes popping, a shine uncitylike.
Watch her grab his hand as he tightens the grip on the wheel. His neck is a vein of limestone now.
Their grey soft pup in the far back, tongue out, head back and forth as they turn
            and climb
                                    and climb again.

Off to pick apples, to taste wine, to listen to the music of those who followed us.
A melody, jarring a bit to the ears, but pleasant.
                        (Our songs were voices. You laid me gently on the yellow flowers
                         and hummed. The sun was setting over Oheka. Deer stirred,
                        turkey chased the locust. If my father heard us, he never said.
                        Your bare feet led us now. I sat on you and dreamed, head back,
                        as you whistled like the long brown bird.)

The car stops, and the woman walks over to the old cemetery. She lays a wreath for China Alice.
They move again, atop Oheka.

I take many rides. I’ve held on to wagons as they climbed the dips. I’ve seen the first autos,
mired in red mud. Frustration in bowlers, then driving out. Buses and pickups, I’ve ridden them all.
They don’t see me, of course, ‘tho sometimes it seems a little one in the back,
with pigtails as I had,
notices a change in the air,
a sense of good will,
a rope through many seasons that touches her nose to mine, unseen.

Below, the soft valley where we shared a long life.
We saw war. But we were companions and lovers/I felt your heart and you mine
through three generations then you stooped one day,
white hair still thick,
fell through the grasses.
                        I blew tiny kisses all over your quiet face, then covered you in rushes.

Now, I ride, and in my hidden pockets I carry you.
I feel you quicken as the people climb. I see you walk through fall’s orange sun as their glasses
            and their children play
                        and the woman and the man touch as we touched
                                                and fall in arms at the river
As I wait by the road for a ride back down.


                                 ~ Published in Artemis Journal 2018 ~