They are gone now. Fled, banished in death or exile, lost, undone. Over the land sun and wind still move to burn and sway the trees, the grasses. No avatar, no scion, no vestige of that people remains. On the lips of the strange race that now dwells there their names are myth, legend, dust.
--Cormac McCarthy, The Orchard Keeper
It was just out of Boone on 321 on a downhill slope where I broke away from my father. It was raining and I think it had him spooked, the road to Erwin curves and twists, but they’re wide through the mountains there so it runs about 55 plus. I was sick of worrying about his Harley behind me, checking my mirrors after each dogleg, my mother towing the trailer behind him, sick of the rain. I had come down here to tear through those hollows like I had before, rising up from
A solid hour of burned homesteads to bank past, goat shacks, paint-flecked pine wrecks tumbling. Each smooth arc run on little traction as rain was falling, stitching them together down the mountain to Erwin. Gearing down past the highest fingers of
I drove it deep into the valley when I spotted the turn-out over the bridge across from the grocery. The bridge ran over a falls, dad said later he saw an eagle gutting down through the cut. There were vehicles lining the front of the filling station, I aimed for a small paved patch that turned back to a fishing spot. Braking, the rear tire locked up and I went into a fifty yard skid, the back end getting sideways out from under me. I eased off and it barked back upright. I got it slowed again and pulled off. The whole valley was quiet except for my engine’s low idle. I was breathing heavy in the helmet.
There was no movement from the store. I looked around, the high ridges, tall poplars, mist and smoke; I could’ve bit it there, I thought, and been satisfied.
From down the ridge, the sound of my father preceded his crossing the iron bridge. His sound filled the valley; he was running it faster now. I throttled my machine back onto the roadway and got ahead of him, barely.
I gassed up at Meadows of Dan eighty miles shy of
There were no cars, I moved singular through the landscape, rolling green and smooth through each corner, and green, bearing down, felt the wobble of my tires on the road in a numberless arc. An old man on a sportbike told me at Meadows of Dan not to worry about Rangers and to get it till I got to 460; I wound the road fifteen miles over the limit. There were my arms attached to me and my legs and the bike on which I perched but I could not determine the relationship between them all.
Past Sparta, past Galax, hunting for what Mary and I had reckoned to be a long haired, long horn yak we’d seen a year ago heading south after her dad’s funeral. I spent most of
are the hardest to put words around:
the winged tail of a shrimp.
a freshly washed pillow case,
growing crisp in the autumn air.
The late winter sun
quenching itself on a bowlful
of snow. The half moon
in your right thumbnail.
What I mean is this—
after the long ride home
when the grass is wet, and the dishes
have been dried, and the wrinkles
have begun to set themselves
in lines more broad
than fine, there will be you—
asleep. Your head in its infinite state
of undress. Each hair
set upon another
wrestling against the grains,
that by some unwritten rule,
must form in your blue eyes.
There will be you, again.
Alight, aloft, adrift,
in my arms alone.
There will be you
and we will be
-M. C. Boyes