Yes, who cares? Those of us who are rooted to place and whose poems seem, as Seamus Heaney says, to rise out of the land we walk, are barely noticed, especially if our place is the South or---Appalachia. "The landscape is a text we no longer no how to read." Can anyone tell me who said that? Which Irish poet? As for our own mountain poets, who really knows much about them? This is a big country. Let me know the poets you read who live outside our metro areas. And I don't mean the Wendell Berry's or the Bly's or the Snyder's who've made a career of being from the "backcountry." Look for Fred Chappell, Bill Brown, Diane Gilliam, George Ella Lyon, Maggie Anderson---and others who give voice to a region most literary people never notice.
Here is the voice of a woman whose voice spoke out of her loneliness and loss several years ago.
If anyone asked me what faith is,
I’d say it’s an empty cup
waiting for water that flows down
the mountain in hollow logs velvet
with lichen of many years’
clinging and into this trough
carved from hickory.
Milk never clabbers here.
Sweet nubbins never rot.
Blackberry wine keeps the first autumn chill
when I lift it out,
suddenly thirsty for something beyond
a slow trickle of water
that slackens in drought-time
to nothing. The hours I’ve sat in this corner
and scarcely breathed, keeping so still
I could hear what the earth
hears, the deepest roots
trembling. Sometimes I trembled myself,
all of one terrible day
I spent bathing my daughter’s limbs
burning with fever. For God had gone
elsewhere, the two of us left
to our last night together, the longest
of any dark. If I should bury my hands
in this water-trough, they would turn cold
as her fingers I held until morning came.
Cold as the stone they laid over her.
I made the men chisel into it,
"What the lord Taketh,
He must give back again."
Dust unto dust,
they rebuked me.
But how could I live not believing
the dust I see lifted from fields is what’s left
of her shaking her petticoat after she’d dug
the potatoes. It’s dust I’ve been told
makes the gloaming sky even now
crimson with sun so that I see this water
turn wine for the instant
I hold out my empty cup.
from Lost Soul, forthcoming, maybe
Causes Kathryn Byer Supports
Any environmental causes to keep our Southern mountains and our planet from devastation. Conservation Trust of North Carolina Nature Conservancy ADC,com...