Where the Hills Seem to Never Cease

I remember the Virginia hill country.
This land unto itself.
I was almost birthed again there.
I was almost raised where people raise
things and plant things and are earnest and
honest because they have no other way to be.
John the Conqueror grew in their yards.
A newspaper was a less threatening connection
to the world outside.
My potential father was Oak and Elm gentle brown.
He was as quiet as steel and twice as strong.
They sang jug songs and played music in the cool
night breeze after they sent me to bed.
They made nice money for being Black at that time
raising things, green things out of the sensual dark soil.
I would have been raised there to help my father, their cousin
out because he sure couldn’t take me right then himself.
I wept on the clean sheets they gave me.
The music was beautiful, entreating.
There were no flat roads on which to run away and find my father
here but there were grasshoppers, mourning doves and someone
who ached to comb my hair, her eyes the amber hue of honey.
I practiced quiet in my child's soul.
I practiced plentitude through understanding.
Then, my father sent word they lived way too far out.
He would have to struggle to see me.
He was taking me back to the city.
The one with the amber eyes and the good soul wept then
packed me cornbread for the trip, hung on to the open
car window for a while as Dad pulled away.
She had given me a bath.
She had actually told me a sweet, gentle bedtime story.

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