Boone, North Carolina

drawing of black workers in striped costumes

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 12 No. 3, "Painting South." Find more from that issue here.

Walking along rhododendron ways,

I find the voice of water,

the yellow of violets,

and the warmth of an old stone

like a knee of the Earth Mother

thrust up into April sun.


I see the faces

of my Cherokee friends

in the shape of this soil,

its darkness the same

as their eyes remembering

old tales of removal.


Yet this land

(although his name remains)

was never enough for that pioneer.


I wonder what shape

his spirit now takes

within the bodies

of his many children,

whose eyes always look

beyond the next ridge,

their dreams never

returning to earth.