Thursday, November 18, 2021

Asheville Notes

Rusted roofs below the rocks
Along the springs of Trillium,
The blood of the lamb like silver pee
Flows from the free will hills in Tennessee
And winds below the hard-carved road
In its fury to go below, past the roots and lodes,
And if our souls lie beyond these rills
Above some crag of glistening hill
Not so our blood, for sinners as for lambs,
We plant our bones like hoes in ground
We’ve hallowed with our hands
But we are told to turn our gaze away,
From the gravestone’s proofs of heaven,
From the faces that grow laurel from the clay,
From the jade-edged shadows to the azure blur Elysium
And call that God
To whom all blessings flow,
Except, of course, all those we know,
A God found, one may suppose, in silence, just beyond
The whispering of the glades,
The murmur of the water
Dropping down from stones,
But, no, what small space there is is filled with praise,
Prayers to what can’t be seen, or known,
To see it and to know it
Instead of fear and death and hopelessness
More easily defined than heaven,
To tell them to flee, to take us back outside of knowledge
Before the first pickaxe fell.

Even the birds speak down
This God of the silence,
Here, even the stone moves
In waves of tourmaline and granite.
The mists lift and it’s only trees
Still as if for a thousand years 
Covering the furthest hills.

Like the breeze blowing up the mountain
The crackle of hickory’s sweet smells bring alive
A humbler, realer life than hell prescribes.
It sizzles like birdsong, and warms like low sun
And carries its light through darkness like mica
Carries spirit shine up the mountain –
How could this great gift
Be so small
Against the invisible liquor
Of withheld love and withheld fire?
How could all this be blessed at all,
But for an aberration,
A innocent laugh against the grain of the sky?

They can drink to you now
At the wood where old Asheville figures
Hung their coats on the hooks by the stools.
No restriction on cheers
From where they sit,
Their smiles tilted outward, from the stars.
Sitting in late afternoon sorrows,
Every word they heard
Sounded the dark note of the void,
And now the doom they forestalled
Is upon them, and they laugh
At how what they escaped
Was never there,
And the unholy concocted consolation
Was the only holy thing
In the whole town.

No matter where you go, 
Mountain or vale,
There’s always the sound of a train
Carrying coal, never seen.
Even its exhalations lay still in the smokies’ haze.
Is there no corner where the green doesn’t go,
Or where the human eyes prying forward
Dare not dwell?