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  • Lifespans
  • Rochelle Hurt (bio)
for Shannon [1988–2000]
Can one be possessed by the ghosts of a road?
41\02%04.9"N 80\31%48.5 in Mahoning County, Ohio, to 40\59%57.2 80\24%30.6 in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania
[250–238 million years ago]
You don't think about how you came to be—not in the dawn of your being. Before you are fully formed and your edges are solidified, time doesn't move in the usual way. It unfurls and refurls around you in flares of orange and green and brown and blue. You are sensing this, which is to say you are feeling it, which is to say you are alive. It is a way of sense-making. Still, in this kind of time, what is to separate you from another? Brush from rock from flesh from feather from bedded-down dirt from the deep skeletal heart of you?
In the quiet water of the swamps, layers of silt and clay and mats of thick vegetation (peat) accumulated. As the rivers changed course or the sea rose to cover the low delta areas, the sediments were buried by new sequences of peat, sand, and mud. (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)
After a while, it does seem there are others who come every so often, lightly skittering over your surfaces, thinking they know you. But that place that others do not see—the cool white core you've felt for as long as memory lasts—that is what grounds you, and what ties you to me. Several times, the shallow sea rose and deposited marine clays and muds. As each layer was buried, compaction and cementation changed the soft, loose sediment to solid rock. (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)
Sometimes we are defined by others, by their use of us. So an undefined space calls for skirting, calls for the laying down of laws and feet. You know what this means: [End Page 76]
When this region was first settled, the only roads were Indian trails, which generally followed the larger streams. (Durant)
that you will always be tethered to a them, to a timeline built not by but for you. The Mahoning Path west of Kuskuskies was also known as the Salt Lick Path, the Tuscarawas Path, the Sandusky Path, the Detroit Path—in fact, by the name of any place it may have led to. (Wallace)
Time picks up, as they say. It handles you, molds your edges with its fingers. You let it happen—what else could you do but wear it all sweetly, as if made just to fit a place. Leaving the Great Path at Beaver's Town (Beaver), the Mahoning Path ran up the west side of the Beaver River to Kuskuskies (New Castle), and continued up the east side of the Mahoning Valley to Youngstown, Ohio. (Wallace)
Now, of course, others can name you. This naming is a scraping, really. For instance: one of my earliest memories is a voice saying: Girls left, boys right, time-out for anyone in the wrong line. Boundaries must be drawn, they say, and then carry away the chaff of you—to better call you you. But what was the chaff, you wonder—or rather, who. By 1748, the upper Ohio Valley had been transformed into a cockpit of international and intercolonial rivalries that once more threatened the Indians living there. (McConnell)
Bridle Path
At a certain age, there is a natural tendency toward separation from one's rooting. My mother's theory: Girls have a harder time in adolescence because of the sudden changes to their bodies. Mine: Mostly, it's the visibility that leads to trouble. The new body a path that says: Here, take me.
In the forks of the path stand several trees painted by the Indians in hieroglyphic manner denoting the number of wars. (Smith quoted in Cherry)
There was a flash of yellow that used to visit you, to sing circles somewhere just outside your being. Sometimes you could hear someone listening with you. It's thick like sap—the sound of someone listening...


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