No one presides at this table. The mountain presides,
indisputable granite. Millennia of uplift and erosion
reduce our decades to a breath, a glimpse,
a nod. No wonder we tell stories
and inscribe epitaphs in igneous rock.
We are far from the thin air of boardrooms,
spectacle of careers like kiting hawks on thermals—
the dihedral glide, the plummet; a mouse scrabbling
in brown leaves ascends, startled, above wild turkeys
fat-breasted and gleaning for ripened seedheads,
in the binocular focus of the bobcat.
Along the winding road from Landrum we travel,
sacks filled with the makings of a feast. Sun-silvered snow
melts on manes of horses bent to fescue, and on peach trees,
low and squat, denuded but for brown-gray bark,
upper branches lighter, like flesh of inner arms upturned.
Shed of summer’s heavy beauty, they revel
in plain dignity and proportion, a shape-note choir.
Behind our mountain chapel, tombstones erode over bones
of children—Darling We Miss Thee for Claud, four days alive,
Alice’s son. And for Martha, daughter of Ola and John.
In neighboring blackgums, bees make honey, amber and peachy
with notes of caramel—the sweetness of life,
its undertone of longing deep and molten as magma.
This poem first appeared in Still Home: The Essential Poetry of Spartanburg (Hub City Writers Project, 2008).
Used here with the author's permission.