It has been experienced many times that mountain people live where they do because that is where and how they prefer to live.—A History of the Daniel Boone National Forest 1770-1970, U.S. Forest Service
Somewhere along the way to beingmust also be belonging, becausebeing is not an isolationor even some distinction, butto be a part, and a part becomesdistinct by being home, providedhome is the land, varied, changing,oblivious to anythingbut becoming its expression, likea voice capable of songand silence that even silent giveswhat is vaguely, hopefully calleda presence, at times unnamable.Walk up a hill sometime and seein the valley a few barns, what mustbe houses, a country store, a churchor a school, some sheep in a field belowa lower hill on the farther side.I'm thinking of a place like Mossyor Level Green, two villagesI've seen below, so named for whatthey are. To see them there, not far,though from a distance that clarifiesand also makes a kind of dream—I've needed the hill; and needed my mind, [End Page 26] my being, to become the hill,to be of the hill as a tree is of it,or a shadow falling over it,a thing inside the everything,where it is possible to liveat Level Green or Mossy, butthe real belonging is to the hill.Even now thinking about the hill,imagining perspective, I'm lostbecause I'm there—and my being thereis being there when I am not. [End Page 27]
Maurice Manning's most recent poetry collections are One Man's Dark and The Gone and the Going Away. A former Guggenheim fellow, Manning has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and is a member of The Fellowship of Southern Writers. He teaches at Transylvania University and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.