I Return to This Place
Benjamin Dugger

where fire-flies light memory’s path
in the moments between lost youth
                        and an old man’s forgetfulness,
where honeysuckle perfumes Doc Walter’s hillside,
sprinkled with afternoon’s geometry
            of butterflies and bees dipping deep
into yellow, bell-shaped flowers
                                    for the liquid candy growing wild
            in Southwest Virginia.

Night crawls toward Meadowview,
and I hear the distant rumble
                        of a Norfolk and Western Y6 double-header,
            iron giants winding and grinding
through the mountains, hissing steam
                        while stomping the grades, pulling
more than a hundred hoppers filled with black diamonds  
            ripped from the Virginias’ coal beds. 
Everything in grandpa’s home shakes
as these dark monsters roar past the front porch—
                        a rolling earthquake of tractive force,
            thunder from thirty-two driving wheels.

Fine soot rains down like black pepper, 
blanketing the house, and I plan
            my morning foray to find the pennies—
                        now flattened, golf ball-sized copper discs—
I placed on the rails near Maiden’s crossing
            as dusk’s first fire-flies rose into thinning air.

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