FOR ROSCOE HOLCOMB: VOCALS, AND BANJO
Did you really think the sun shone down in your house out on hillbilly row?
When the rains flowed and fed great fields of kudzu and honeysuckle
you watched your gardens fade and fall, dry and die into the barren
granite mothered soil, and all the bream and bark in the world
just wouldn’t fertilize, wouldn’t hold the sands long enough to seed.
But you try. And when it’s good, on the front porch above the haze
it’s a vision of green mountains and steaming thin rivers cutting
through the gorge, beautiful. And when it’s corn and bean shucking time
you still have the heart to whistle “In the Pines”,
and you hope someone can hear you, you hope someone will whistle back
through the woods, maybe even cross over to your land.
Dried flowers, a dusty letter, Japanese figurines, yellow light on the brick mantel shines,
wipe your eyes, look again, and still it shines a cracked
and dingy pastel, and the morning itself seems like a postcard,
a loved memento of the life you’ve had. But waking always brings this pause,
this gaze into the past…
You wish it was easier to shake away the dreams,
just set them on the shelf beside the light, turn around and go your way.
Sitting in the kitchen staring at the rusty well water in your James Joyce mug,
have a smoke, try to forget those other warmer mornings and fonder beds,
inhale, and think about how with today you begin again, yes again, yes.
Daybreak walking down the hill, chestnut and red clover line the path,
wild strawberries and may pop vines perk up beneath the early dew,
and you think about it: this is my life? Here, earthsongs grew and flourished,
and you knew all the talk about whispers on the wind
and the life of the wee folk was more than legend, it simply was. It simply was the way of things.
River rock and Cherokee rose lead the way creekside to the barbwire line
that marked the place your father had his still, and there today you see
the blue tagged stake for the county tax man, fresh and deep, weak nonetheless,
and there today you just kick it down and keep on walking, glad this is a place
where you feel and feel, and feel so much the today of it all, just the today.
Strange water, this mountain blood: Black bear heart and Appalachian spirit,
Van Gogh hands given to the land, you know the light is sweet and giving,
yet the Adam in you still curses anyway, and you pace in and out of the creek
and moss like this here is the one true baptistery, and you dare it all
to come to pass……….yeah, these Ecclesiastic days will surely pass,
but until then there’s another song waiting, another blues, another hymn
to hard work and struggle, another reason to stomp and wail,
and then another day to fight the silence on your hill.