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Poem: "Appalachia"

I am Appalachia.  In my veins
Runs fierce mountain pride; the hill-fed streams
Of passion; and, stranger, you don't know me!
You've analyzed my every move-you still
Go away shaking your head.  I remain
Enigmatic.  How can you find rapport with me -
You, who never stood in the bowels of hell,
Never felt a mountain shake and open its jaws
To partake of human sacrifice?
You, who never stood on a high mountain,
Watching the sun unwind its spiral rays;
Who never searched the glens for wild flowers,
Never picked mayapples or black walnuts; never ran
Wildly through the woods in pure delight,
Nor dangled you feet in a lazy creek?
You, who never danced to wild sweet notes,
Outpouring of nimble-fingered fiddlers;
Who never just "sat a spell," on a porch,
Chewing and whittling; or hearing in pastime
The deep-throated bay of chasing hounds
And hunters shouting with joy, "he's treed!"
You, who never once carried a coffin
To a family plot high up on a ridge
Because mountain folk know it's best to lie
Where breezes from the hills whisper, "you're home";
You, who never saw from the valley that graves on a hill
Bring easement of pain to those below?
I tell you, stranger, hill folk know
What life is all about; they don't need pills
To tranquilize the sorrow and joy of living.
I am Appalachia; and, stranger,
Though you've studied me, you still don't know.

Source: Muriel Miller Dressler, Morris Harvey College (1973).


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