Paean to West Virginia Backroads

By Bonnie Thurston

Geography is our glory, but
road building’s a challenge.
Always has been. Still is.
This contributes to our 
tendency to isolate, to be
by nature suspicious.
Why not? Incomers have
raped our mountains,
carried off our resources
 like spoils of a war we lost.

Winding down a narrow
state road, I was struck
 by the recent addition of
signs (“Copperhead Drive,”
“Hummingbird Lane”)
by previously anonymous
strings of little houses
that wind up hollars
to which UPS can now
deliver junk from China.

This mountain’s mama has
a predilection for anonymity,
a fiercely protective gene 
that prefers unnamed backroads,
that don’t warn strangers
“here be serpants,” or 
“that next curve’s a killer,”
that don’t invite outsiders
to the magic of hummingbirds
in wild honeysuckle.