My Window

Lake all pukey green.

Once white teeth stained yellow by its acidic churning.

Sour-looking. Running the wrong way. This lake.

Is a mask set on top of a river. By the TVA.

This lake cost a lot of people their homes.

Dented ridges climb the other side then taper down into Damascus.

America is a crapshoot for naming things.

White can be seen through trees against mountain scalp like dandruff.

Undisturbed beneath thinning hair. Itchy-looking.

Dry cold makes a wet nose and specks of dust out of falling snow.

Virginia. Old girl. I have decided not to say it.

Wind. Sucking at the windowsill. Battling doors.

Carrying the recyclables all across the yard.

Bombastic voices on the television warn us ‘stay indoors’.

Polar Vortex. Man wears a rolex. Catches light

point out Saltville. Bristol. Then Wytheville.

Only flurries, near Hillsville. Blue eyes pierce.

Stared into camera two.

May as well give his ‘back to you’.

She. Muted. Tells about lost and found children.

Geese bowl over one another down by green water.

White birds stalk yellow waves. Winter wind.

Pushes the river the wrong way. Backward.

Black birds beat wings against the weather.

Took them ten minutes to clear my window.

Not in that order.

Groseclose. Atkins. Not in that order.
Knot Maul Branch Shelter.
Because settlers could not afford the iron.

Grouse cut loose just up a head, at the nose of the dog, scouting ahead.
The sound their wings made punishing air and us for coming too close.
Early morning. Before nine. More importantly. Before coffee.
Eight birds was just enough to fooly wake us up.
And scare the dog. Most famous of us all.

Mount Rogers. Does he happen to be related to mister?
All I want to know is who to blame for all these blisters.

Wilson Creek. South Holston.
Seven Holsteins dead stare eyes static mouths chewing leftover breakfast.
Dear mom,
I’m writing to say I’m hiking the entire Appalachian Pasture.
It’s swell. Throwing legs over ladders in bolted crosses across barbed wire.
Like a rustler. Like a thief. Mom, I may never leave.

My backpack is become a part of me.
Full. In the most intentional manner imaginable.
Stuffed. With stuff for each and every day,
of the three to come. And six in the past.

If you wanted to come.
You only had to ask.

Bastian. And then. There is Bland. Not in that order.
But just after Abingdon. Then back here again.

To track Appalachians. North.
Until the mountains end.

This country

I love this country.
Seated against a tree in Virginian highlands.
I love this country. And, I know what all that means.
Mountain pillars float above foundation streams.
Tall rooted sunlight schemes wiggling green.
Evening breeze.

I love when high wind sweeps low and stillness quivers.

Feel this shiver as it slinks along my spine.
Ends up near my mind.
I love a cup of wine.
I love to breathe smoke.
To nurse fire.
I love the country where I am.
Gnats wings electricity near my ear.
Fire molesting moist wood.
Hesitant to burn.
Begged to be left alone.
This country is my home.
And I am anything but inclined to protect it.

On my feet.
Eating miles.
Wide hip pictures of horizons
and boot prints on the trail.

I love this country best.
I love it with footsteps.
With my time.

Houses. Jobs. Farms. Goats. Careers. Left behind.
By definition. They are not this country.
Which was here long before we were.
And will remain so long past I. Us. We.

Lovers of continents we can’t understand.

There are better ways than words to say it.

Try walking.