a trail of tears

midsagital dissection

this human split in half

an existential opposition

my blood separates on mounted horses

when given questionable blankets

antistoichon scales do not balance

when the hemispheres of my brain consider

a length of yarn that traveled

seventy years from the eastern

kentucky mountains

the cherokee word is asgina

a human ghost

last of her kind

amidst the southern baptists

climbing mazlos’s chart to acceptance

the need to belong

and not die alone

to reach some sort of heaven

a summerland with open arms

she arrived in the 1940’s

upon the doorstep

of my great grandfather’s


a church he made a pilgrimage

to save once a month

deep within the hills from whence he came

after they planted tobacco in virginia

isn’t it always about the road home

she walked down the middle of a sunday morning aisle

pleading in her native tongue

crying and pointing upward

my ancestor ministered soft tones

and brought about calm

she motioned for him to follow her outside

he complied

the sheep too followed the shepherd of god

all the while she chanted

she dropped to her knees

making a circle of dry leaves upon the ground

3 feet in diameter

she then walked to seek a rock to turn over

plunging her hands into her peoples earth

she stooped to conquer a worm

pulled it away from its destiny

and returned before the congregation

to the mysterious  terrestrial ring

a flint appeared

setting fire to the circle

tears rolling down her cheeks

she gestured to

the worm

the fire

then herself

dropping the squirm into

the fiery damnation

then fetched it from the flames

reverend c.c. bates then explained to his flock

she wanted to be saved from their hell

let us take her to the water

some other Fishing Creek homeland

maybe it was whitesburg

that’s where the bates’ are from in Letcher County

full submersion faith

he cleansed her of collective sins

as the choir sang the old rugged cross

she exchanged her medicine bag for a thorny crown

rose from the water

rejoicing full of embraces

she laughed

at the telling

i cry


i’m glad uncle ronnie


when the preacher is done

for the

fried chicken and harvey house cole slaw

served with

the ancient memories of

84 year old bard historians

who lived

to tell a grandson

Leave a Reply