Alena Hairston
Superior Hill

from A Lithology of Childhood



In the cave of morning fossils children fly into the accident of the world not knowing beforehand how shiny their moons will be.  Thus, a child of tar and peat ash cannot know her sediment until she is picked.  This is a profound grievance.  And the sun. 

Brown to be, mouth convex, willing lonely dance, spinning.

False promise where her mouth was once lost.  It’s a biting kind of place:  all teeth.


The stepmother says a crime has been committed:
Eyes pointing to eyes.
Though she is old, she has time
unlike this cavegirl whose mouth is wrong
and shows up in winter.

The story is this:  elderwoman hates
in spring when the promise
of futures is tactile, allowed.

Tell the truth:  you fed
when she died from the crime
of your tongue;
merryweather in spring, doe-eyed,
splendid tramp.

And the killing was quick:
cavegirl sent to a desert
without dune or mirage.

The curve of the lie
pulls expensive meat.








Days there are stars
                                in the moon of lips,
a fighting tongue, breach,
                                a pulling back
from where you crept
                                into the outside of want.

Nobody taught you how
                                 to love a lie
in its cave of stalagmites
                                 glossy with gossip

As a girl, the always
                                 cutting of time,
its calcareous feeding
                                 limed in need.

Stowaway, refugee,
                                for whom time ends
in the coup of family,
                                alleged, abetted


A lifetime of coal
camps patch surrender
in the together
of solitude making
covenant of mountain,
illicit permanence
creviced in loam.

Make a girl free:
pull her skin to the eyes
of made-believe history;
leave her at a glassless window
to sit with bowl and spoon,
homely looking for home.

Who you are
is where you left
in the eve of aster,
snapdragon, sedge.

Memory is vegetal,
returns each season
to the larkspur ledge.