I Return to This Place
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.