At the very edge of summer the melodramatic clouds are gathering, the ones that are harbingers of something in a particularly sappy opera. The day takes on a shade of dark usually reserved for night. Everyone begins to move in slow motion. We feel like characters in something, start trying to remember our lines. How does this go again? Something is about to happen; what is it?

all the hard words

over there, where a jagged black line of mountains defines the horizon, someone sees the first bolt of electricity leap casually, athletically, across the sky. we begin to murmur, counting under our breaths, counting our breaths, until the crash. then there’s no point in saying anything. all we can do is listen.

rosebud this isn’t my first attempt

You know how when you’re surrounded by noise, you start hearing things? Was that a crash of thunder, an incessant rapping of rain on the roof, a torrent of water pouring down the street, or was it a booming voice, massive thudding footsteps, the sound of uncontrollable, unimaginably loud weeping? Are there giants in the mountains, giants in mourning? We might never know; all we can do is consider the probabilities. Nature or a myth? We tell one story to the children and another to ourselves.

the way the world ends in a blade of grass


A few months after I thought the story of the giant was over, I discovered that the story of a giant is never really over, or at least can never be said to be over with any degree of certainty. I had cleaned out the barn; had stopped waking in the night to hold my breath and listen for the sound of a giant snoring and worry about whether anyone else could hear it too; had written down everything I could remember about my dealings with the giant; had put all those files in a locked folder in the equivalent of a dark basement corner of my hard drive. I no longer expected anything, in regards to the giant.

bird passing through a forgotten whistle

One season ended and another began and ran most of its course. A chill came over us all, a hush engulfed us, a void replaced activity. When I wasn’t reading or writing I wandered the house and yard with no intention or plan to guide me, until one day, a day of rare clarity in November, when I stepped onto the porch and realized that the shedding of leaves had ended and the trees were waving their bare limbs in resignation. The horizon had returned, and with it the mountains. I looked out to them, to where the giant said she had come from. I had hardly ever seen them in such sharp definition.

standard time
the clock’s ticking
suddenly louder

Something made me retrieve the binoculars; something made me put them to my eyes. The slopes were a solid mass of bare trees, except for the stony crags on which nothing grew, and it was across one of these crags that something was moving. I thought, at first, a deer, a mountain goat, a rock climber, an ordinary hiker. But the scale was off. The cliffs were too small, or the moving thing was too large. I moved out into the yard, focused, focused. My hands were cold. I was close to obtaining resolution, but then my numb hands fumbled, the binoculars fell, the lens cracked. When I lifted them to my eyes again, I saw only a jigsaw of glass. And that, although I bought new binoculars, although I looked every clear day for as long as I lived in that house, was the last time I saw anything like that moving across those cliffs.

first frost—a myth on the verge of being invented

myths from another universe: 2

Three half-grown girls decide one day to climb an immense mountain that, everyone knows, only men should climb. Halfway up, the air grows so thin that they feel faint and cry for help; immediately, a giant man made of snow—a familiar, recurring character at whose appearance all the listeners murmur in approval—appears and offers to carry them the rest of the way to the summit. But there is a catch. There’s always a catch. Depending on who’s telling the story, the catch is either that once they reach the summit, they will become male and no one who knows them back home will recognize them or have anything to do with them; or that they will be obliged to stay forever on the summit, which everyone assumes is cold, windy, and utterly inhospitable. Regardless, it turns out that the top of the mountain is in fact a warm and airy paradise, filled with both men and women whom everyone below imagines to have died in their attempt to reach it. Two of the girls, who might be men at this point, if the story has gone that way, are eager to stay, but the third considers it her duty to go back and inform the rest of the people about this wondrous place. When no one can persuade her to stay they set the snowman after her; he turns himself into an avalanche that destroys them both. There is always an appalled silence at the conclusion of this story.

knit one purl two twilight all afternoon



Appalachians whose knees am I kneeling on

artwork by Aubrie Cox


A Hundred Gourds 1.2, March 2012



May I direct you to Aubrie Cox’s collaborative Doodleku project? This month she’s posting one of her doodles (see above for example) every day on her blog, Yay Words!, and inviting poetic responses from her readers. And here I thought I would be free of obligatory daily poetry after the official NaHaiWriMo month ended. Ha. You are never free of obligatory daily poetry. Just so you know.