The Night the Rain Had Nowhere to Go
Before wanted posters were hung her name & face at gas stations & the Magic Mart Before she testified to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources made congressmen look at her slides orange creeks scummy tap water a nude girl bathing in mine waste Before capitol police detained interrogated her for an hour Before she told reporters I’m a hillbilly a Cherokee a fierce mother Before the ridge behind her house was blasted & her children got nosebleeds from the dust had to play inside Before strangers gave her children the finger taunted them Before coal trucks swerved tried to run her off the road Before the sand in her gas tank & knifed tires There was the night the rain came moaning down had nowhere to go valleys near her house had been filled with debris everywhere the soil pressed down a great grinding flood Big Branch Creek took her access bridge her sidewalk She led her son and daughter out of their house tried to climb the hill tried for higher ground They couldn’t push through liquid mud the hill washing down on them their feet sunken slipping in mud the earth sliding away
Copyright © 2019 William Woolfitt. This poem originally appeared in Poetry Northwest, Winter & Spring 2019. Used with permission of the author.