- Many Streams
Rising from many streams, muddy bone, storm-shaken bits come to rest in plants and bushes, many-petaled skeletons beside porch steps.
Mountains assault us with splendor, enfold us, purple misted arms wrap their girth around our vision, until we can see layer upon layer, green, blue, purple spectrums. Red, brown, black white mingling in the valleys.
Dirt, our natural color, universes bloom in our eyes: sky, sun, moon, stars, sights we see as one. Ocean’s thrill and pull, whispers behind our backs: This is not your home.
Come with me to the hole in the mountains. Across the sea. Back home to Africa. Old women in shawls cover their faces, bent, glinting secret jewels and shells, rattling in our ears.
Children in the garden speak in voice of Corn Woman, sacred offerings. Mud calls our name, [End Page 118] grabs our ankles, pulls us into slip and slide, tumbling down creeks rising from chasms in Mother Earth.
Laurel switches sting our faces, quartz flies against our feet as we roll down slopes of shining rocks, stumble against cedar, come to rest at precipice. All the Earth lies at our feet, in every molecule a wealth of worlds.
There’s no time I wouldn’t rather be traveling amid indignities, superfluous magic of being human, learning to fall. Hands extended by strangers, perfect along the way. Honey in the pot of the next diner, mica glistening headlights, asphalt. Horses promise they will spirit me away.
On the highway, night mist against fences, mysterious farms. Plants call my name. Cabbage calls out in the night, like a child imploring witness to growth. Imagine sunlight captured by cells.
I will not remain, but bolt or be eaten. There is too much to listen to. Too much to hear at once. Too many calls overdue in the world not vertical. I will be back to the meadow mowed at sunset, and the moon come tipping ghostly over the trees. I will be back when snows hush the streams. [End Page 119]
Glenda Bailey-Mershon grew up in Greenville County, South Carolina, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her family roots on both sides lie in the Western North Carolina Mountains. She is the author of sa-co-ni-ge: blue smoke: poems from the Southern Appalachians as well as The History of the American Woman’s Movement: A Study Guide. She is a retired academic administrator, now living in St. Augustine, Florida.