Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty
Winter 2012
 
HARLAN COUNTY
Rachel Danielle Peterson

Home is in the vocal chords—
the sound. Lost now.
My own murmur slips up to my mother’s room here in Harlan County,

in the same hospital, the same headboard
my mother fell into florescent lights, noise.
The same blood stained on the same linoleum. Coincidence in Harlan County.

Black Mountain, named for coal,
the thick, fern-fingered ridges that expose
my first birdsong: finches, cradle-space of Harlan County.

My father whistled as he threaded
his white soul into veins of grim, glittering earth
until the ridgepoles lay stripped like naked thighs in Harlan County.

We left the rock, the redbud’s soil
that stained his fingers for the glacier-flattened, fettle fields
of Ohio, but kept the Word, the steep syllables of Harlan County.

No—I transgress with every line. I level
my mother-tongue on highways, trail every diphthong,
while my father, street-maker, story-shaper, still bloodies the sun for Harlan County.

About Rachel Danielle Peterson

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