- Removing The Mountain From The Coal
Lorries, at that altitude, defy gravity, cross-hatching
in slow motion a bric-a-brac of switchback Zs—
their unearthed ruin in the clouds, its overburden in the valley.
Something with not only the will, but the ordnance (ammonium
nitrate) to blow 400 meters off the mountain’s frontal lobe of cortex
where memory once construed: its infinite vaults and archives—
the oldest extant range on earth— a record of the moment
on the third day of Genesis— when Jehovah whispered,
Let the dry land appear, then the transcripts of what followed
ever after. Gone. Gray matter and emerald striae tier. Black
twinkle vast impoundments. Slurries lurk. Across the horizon—
eastern Kentucky, Tennessee, all of West Virginia, into western [End Page 120]
Virginia—summits picket: massive reds and yellow autumnal fire.
Light breaks about their faces. Understories flower. [End Page 121]
Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012–14) and currently teaches at Appalachian State University. He is author of eight books of poetry, three novels, and a book of stories. He is the author of the book of essays, Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, winner of the Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction (Mercer University Press, 2014). His new volume of poems, The 13th Sunday after Pentecost, is forthcoming in 2016 from LSU Press. email@example.com