Mountain Time [excerpt]
Up here in the mountains we know what extinct means. We've seen how our breath on a bitter night fades like a ghost from the window glass. We know the wolf's gone. The panther. We've heard the old stories run down, stutter out into silence. Who knows where we're heading? All roads seem to lead to Millennium, dark roads with drop-offs we can't plumb. It's time to be brought up short now with the tale-tellers' Listen: There once lived a woman named Delphia who walked through these hills teaching children to read. She was known as a quilter whose hand never wearied, a mother who raised up two daughters to pass on her words like a strong chain of stitches. Imagine her sitting among us, her quick thimble moving along these lines as if to hear every word striking true as the stab of her needle through calico. While prophets discourse about endings, don't you think she'd tell us the world as we know it keeps calling us back to beginnings? This labor to make our words matter is what any good quilter teaches. A stitch in time, let's say. A blind stitch that clings to the edges of what's left, the ripped scraps and remnants, whatever won't stop taking shape even though the whole crazy quilt's falling to pieces.
From Black Shawl by Kathryn Stripling Byer. Copyright © 1998 by Kathryn Stripling Byer. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.
Kathryn Stripling Byer
Kathryn Stripling Byer grew up in southwest Georgia, graduated from Wesleyan College
Date Published: 1998-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/mountain-time-excerpt