It’s cut off, the hotel. From the town

to which there are no sidewalks. The grassy

bit between walled interstates each going

opposite, absolute directions away. The air

outside un-openable windows. The Appalachian

ridges in sight beyond, above the low, base lines

of box stores, but not in reach. The question

How did I ever leave my mountains? displaced

by What’s left of here? in the chain business.

Called that, but link-less. Even fully-booked,

a vacant building.


It was isolation of another kind, no roads across

rough terrain, growing up talking to oneself

in an uninfluenced accent, that once let a rural place

keep alive its ways. In the lobby, there’s a pamphlet

about the past, folk art. Images to make study of

here where I’m stuck. Of a sculpture, an ark, crafted

from scrap wood, populated by pigs and possums.

Not lions and elephants. By locals, not exotics

the carver could not, in his time, know. His focus

devoted, defined by hills, tightly framing how far

the eye will go.


Though in a traveler today too—in rented rooms,

in walls where water sound can only be the brook

of next door’s flushing, in departure gates’ fluorescent light

where any foliage is faux—sincere feeling arises. An urge

to unseal the sterile, individual package of every lonely

peanut and soap. And the airport shuttle passes open

barns of curing tobacco, a traditional crop. Or troubling,

but a color that is a glory, in any case. The gold it turns

because it has been cut. So long, the ark was adrift.

consider the many beasts, the wild beliefs,

it carried forward.