None of my favorite authors are out here tonight.
Familiar smoke twirling above a dying fire.
All too well. Similar to the places they dwelled.
Lobster bisque. Didn’t clean a dish.
Ash tray brimming.
Two wet logs laid side by side
in a fire-ring of heavy white rock.
Mortared brick mantle caked by fire dust.
Half eaten tomato sausage biscuit.
Made from scratch.
Flour printed pen on butter dusted paper.
Scratching. Dragging wagging lines and loose dotted I’s
and night light spotted eyes. Retracted back.
Is that them?
My imaginary collective of favorite authors.
Not out there. Not here.
I have no favorite authors.
I keep no living heroes.
All I have are peers.
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.
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.
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.
There’s an eclipse on. And action figures wearing backpacks
and no shirt on are running up mountains just to see the sun.
Grayson Highlands. Blue daughter feeling low if they miss it.
Too late to see a star fade too early.
I have a beautiful dog, or did you know?
We’re going south. And of course. You are north.
Neither any of us belong out here.
We carted along much of our nests and homes
and raided our parent’s pantries.
Or else none of us eats out here.
Drinks blue clear.
Stinks something fierce.
Just to get along. Movement.
Travel. Simplicity. Dressed up nomadic domesticity.
Wild. Shirtless. Short hair. Heavy pack. Like military types.
Hoping to reach a clearing before the sun does.
All of us almost, with obstacles between here and there.
Perfect hole punched in passed over paper.
Watching a little white yellow dot bend,
long and oblong against worn two by six.
We did not venture out here for this. And yet we did.
We are. Right here on the cusp of the world.
Watching planets play pool with our perspective.
Calling out pockets and sinking shots.
There’s an eclipse on.
People pulled toward it like metal to a magnet.
Like water to a center. Like tidewaters toward the moon.
Gigantic orbs rolling on through.
No different than any other day.
You the sun.
Me the earth.
And the moon.
Just a little something
between me and you.
If you could see my hands right now, you would read a ragged poem. Skin I won’t miss and some bits I do, and ash from so many different fires. At least five or so across fortyfive miles of mountains. If you could see my feet right now, you would be doing better than me. Foundations can’t always be seen. Doesn’t mean this house isn’t strong. Though it does have its own form of mouse. If you had had my night last night, you would’ve heard them too. Scratching up walls next to you. Being bold. Head covered not just for cold. If you could feel the warmth I’m beside, touched by flickering light, and listen through the insects, and barely see the starshine, it still would not be the same. Not my. Not I. But you. And yours. I call it mine. Though I am sure, It goes by different names.
A lemon growing in the woman I love. The sweetest lemon there ever was. Still isn’t too sweet. But growing two feet. And butterfly wings. When the woman I love finally settles in at night. You water that lemontree just right, and she’ll expand your definition of love. And. Grow you lemons. Well, grape turned pomegranate turned lime then lemon and so on. Plus two arms to sew on. Isn’t that impressive? This lemon can put on its own buttons. And zipper up vertebrae galore. Seam ripper the skin between fingers. And longarm till short arms grow sore.
To be clear I have never liked lemons before.
Now, I admit, I just hadn’t met the right lemon yet.
Steers that aren’t really steers sideways stare at us from between two big bowed branches of hollow bone. Crickets creak tree lines as steady as creeks creak creek bottoms. Sun sings sweat on shoulders with a sharp shiny soprano singing voice. Crows caw call us all back on our feet. Back backpacking miles repeat. And grass. Sweeps us off our feet with the subtle prayer of protein green. It is all made into a choir within me. A world of wild sound woven into harmony. The quilting consciousness that is humanity. Our mission. And it may yet prove to be enough just to sit and listen.
Use caution putting things away, because that is where they stay. For as long as you don’t mind not seeing them. All sorts of things. Spices printed with dates like two thousand and fourteen. Half written journals and perfectly full ink pens and highlighters gone dry left so long in the dark. Dust in caked layers and rust inundating needle nose pliers and hair off so many animals. Life is not a house. Life is not a closet. We built these places, and tuck ourselves in. Tidied up. Straightened out. Organized lives from so many broken pieces of mine. Like puzzles. And you take a puzzle out of the box to put it together. The picture doesn’t fit inside its own container. Though it is much more secure in there.
Steel drains and matted hair. The windows where we sat and stared. The doorways we broke through to get somewhere. Be careful. Confusing life with the packages we put it in. Use caution. Putting anything out of sight, and subsequently, mind. Because it will become something in isolation that it was not before. Love makes a great meal. But it doesn’t store. At least not well. Not in the boxes where we dwell. Where we hide. And like scared children, keep ourselves hidden. Calling it a living room when it is more of a tomb until doors are broken open and windows crack and wind blows curtains back and light sweeps carpet and life steps over thresholds carrying smell and pollen and sound like a smiling bride braced in bent arms.
Get life all cleaned up, and out, and put away, and straightened, and immaculate, and categorized and sanitized and ornately adorned and closed windows and locked doors. So that at our own discretion, we can choose it. Have it eternally, as long as we don’t mess up and use it. Risked. And there is no insurance to safeguard against this. But I can tell you, antiquity, is where things go to die. Be careful putting away anything you love. Because it will stay put up. While you, and so many years, pass by.
It’s official, I left my job at Foust after four incredible years. What an opportunity, and like most good things in life, buried at the center of a nesting doll of so many other jobs and situations. I remember working at the suit store in the morning, then landscaping all afternoon, gardening all evening, and walking my dogs just praying, begging God for a better way to make a living.
It isn’t just a phrase when people say you work for the job you want, not the one you have. Nothing was promised, but I trusted, and each job dropped me off exhausted, ready, done, right on the doorstep of a better one. I feel blessed. I feel hungry, but in the best way. I’m knocking down the door of a greater opportunity already. I’m not exactly sure what life will look like on the other side of this hike, but I have a good feeling
Foust is a part of it.
Which means for now, this really isn’t a true to form good bye.
So much as it is a to-be-continued in disguise.
If I reach the end of my life, and find my greatest sin was being white, what then?
Will I explain to God how it was part of being American?
It was an entrenched system.
It had more to do with inheritance than with decisions.
I care so little for the color of skin. But the weight of true sin,
that is a burden like no other. An anchor on a ship built to circle the world.
And if you never learn to recognize it, you never leave the harbor.
Too heavy to push off from this morbid coil, this meal we let spoil
into redemption soil, inherited toil, this life effort into death comfort, into oceans.
History so heavy it drags bottom. Measures how far we’ve not gotten.
Shows us the depth we are all so eager to stay on top of.
It makes for an awkward discussion, but the perfect poem.
Seeing society cripple itself so that it favors one leg over the other.
White people who are really beige, offwhite, often pink, rarely really white,
fostering fear and weakness and feigned innocence so that disparity
can be dropped like an anchor and stop progress pushing in the wind.
We all see round sails and current lines and a horizons frowning
they are so anxious to be pushed back further.
Yet we do not draw it up to drip above the water,
so our past has become a permanent tether.
We know history can not go away, but while we refuse to carry it,
at least we know where we stay. White in the United States.
But ships are not meant to stay anchored.
I am confident we were not either.
And I refuse to let my greatest sin be living complacently in white America.
I don’t know what afterlife waits for white Americans.
Though I am doubtful it will be a white heaven.
Which has been white historically, right?
White while it ousted brown.
White while it bought up black and broke it down.
White while it tore through textures of white.
White bleeding purple reading yellow
where it prefers seeing taupe.
White America is not a title or a phrase to some people.
It is a redundancy.