Old Song

This country

    lays a living claim this hour,

       the upsweep of ridges

        rising beyond 

           the nearby band of burning, beating oranges

                and flickering yellows of foliage

Cast in 

         vagrant, vast shadows

              of the billowing slate cold blows

                   of close October clouds

Long while since 

     I’ve been around,

         a long while  

Is a country that draws, 

    that draws,

       that fills 

          hungering open spaces

               with rumpled thicknesses 

                   and deepening hues of 

                        lavenders and midnight beryl

And then a moment’s quicksilver 

      quiver of light

           falls distant


                   more dimming, broad upheaves                                         

That descend dusky 

     to the east,

          so I’m told,

               into the ocean fold and cradle

                    of the Greenbriar Valley      

And if I miss remembering this,

    if I miss remembering,

        there will be no

           home for my swale and hogback flesh, 

                no home-born tendons


                        to wrap

                             my earthen bones

No rivulets running

      wild and ancient 

          in the far down chambers of 

              a once creeked heart

Heart that departed,                                                                      

     departed, departed, departed ………                                                          

Yet this country,


         this country now,   

             its flagrant,   

                  unfettered, brave,

                       hawk whirled


Is still my morning song,

    the one I made my own,

         the furtive one 

             I used to imagine


                    all the hills

                       into the auroral coral

                           of dawn             

And look –

     in the


             of the etchings 

                   of these swelling,

                        muted blue upscapes –                                                           

                            to drift it again,

                                  the old song,

                                       into the lucent, living air

Lift it again

      on the native wings

          of my

              breath        John Slocomb, 2021