Kathryn Stripling Byer


At the end of the road,
she was waiting for me
at the overlook,
a slight glance of
girl, all a’tremble
with wanting
to see the same moon
as I saw rising
over the mountains.


Rain down the gap where
Stonewall led doomed troops
from Lexington into the valley
as shown on the overland map

and rain down the forehead
of Stony Man, dripping
from Hawksbill and way down
to Dark Hollow Trail

rain that mingles with waterfalls
and birds crying somewhere
like long roots of ivy
thrown over a cliff hang.


She sits in the cleft heart
of Dark Hollow Falls
and hugs night to her chest.
Having given up trying to sing
she sits cold as the gray
marble statues at Antietam.


Battlefield maps show
the black line of Jackson’s
remains carried back home,
the blue lines of victory,
gray of retreat. There was rain
after the battle. The wagon
wheels stuck in the ruts.


We love an Indian legend
attached to a waterfall,
or rock.
If not legend,
at least a name opening
onto the local facts.
The town where I live,
for example,
has several meanings.
Valley of Lilies,
white lily,
and in Mooney’s Myths
of the Cherokees,
“Meaning Lost.”

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