Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Poem: "The Stories That Feed Us"

"…and in the place where the cloud settled
	… there the people of Israel encamped.” Numbers 9:17b

The rain has hung upon this hill all afternoon.
From time to time a flash sizzles and stirs
   	the roiling black belly of clouds
    	to remind me something about scale.
And I think they knew this, too, 
    	there among those mountains north
    	of knowing, there where starving
    	grew as real as miracles and 
   	the honey of rock-nesting bees.
They knew they were small 
     	like bees, like pebbles, like dust. 
They came to know a cloud as something personal,
   	something linking them with past and promise.
This hill has upon it now a drenching
    	that though it forbids my ascent,
     	will feed garden and family 
     	all summer through
      	and with luck we’ll remember all that feeds us: 
                 milk and honey,
                 loaves and fishes,
                 tomatoes and sweet corn, 
                 last year’s stories, this year’s hope.

Source: Marc Harshman, Rock & Sling (Winter 2010).