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PHACELIA, from "Blood Mountain," Black Shawl (LSU Press)

Quite a few years back I began a short story from the viewpoint of a young mountain girl "taken advantage of," as we say, by one of the timber "cruisers" sent into the southern Appalachians to scout the best stand of forest to be clear-cut. As in Ron Rash's novel Serena, these timber companies brought ruthless exploitation to the mountains. The story never made its way to completion, but the situation was echoed in a later poem, as part of the sequence "Blood Mountain," from my book Black Shawl. This sequence has been set to music for soprano and piano by my friend Harold Schiffman and premiered a year ago in New York City. It will soon be released on cd.


Gently, as if swabbing
wounds, she scrubs
stains left from

where they lay down
in the grass. She remembers
her fingers plunged deep

into crushed green, the odor
of light rain, the moldering
leaves going up in a fever

of white flowers till she
can hear herself babbling
such words as forever,

forget-me-not, full
moon, her mouth
like a dovecote of syllables

forced open so she can
taste every sweet
nothing melting away

into silence as she lay
beneath him like trampled
earth already trying

to cover itself with a veil
of such snowy white
as what a bride calls (oh

why can't she hear
what she says?) Sheer

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I love the cut of the lines, and yes, I can imagine song!

NIcely done, Kay! I'd love to hear the music!

Rock on--

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Rock On

Thanks, Marilyn. have a great journey. I'm working on getting my poetic mojo back---this one above is old. Time for something new. K.