Alena Hairston

Up Bolt Mountain


Whatever the crimes against children,
violence is most articulate in the caves
of memory, a mineralogy we conduct
on Route 52, parts unpaved, carelessly
winding railless spirals of flying coals
that crash into the windshield of morning.
We never tell our secrets, this promise
breaking nothing inside our black lungs
and blacker hearts, sanctions doubling death.
As we carry the story up and past
the weaving dominion of strata,
crystals more finite than our lost speech,
the colors in the box of day before us
find themselves between larkspur and loam.
The mountain turns a heavy grade;
the engine quakes and the tires heave.
I drive deftly, shifting gears as you taught me,
count the seconds down, up the incline
of silence, time feathering like shale.
Your tightening mouth is my heirloom:
The catastrophe between father and daughter
is that the past is the ambush of family
and this moment a rincon of retreat.