HomePoetryVisiting Greybeard

Initials Carved into Rock, on Graybeard, NC

The land has its own memory.  Here is a poem I recorded in my studio today that exploring my own experience of the memory of the land.  I’m certain others have had such experiences, and I would love to hear them.  Will you share your stories?

      Visiting Greybeard - Stephanie Thomas Berry

Visiting Greybeard

We climb the moss-laden mountain
and skirt the forbidden ground of the watershed.
Over stone and under branch we walk up,
we gulp air, we are fish
swimming through time.

At the pinnacle are the stones–Greybeard himself
stretched wide and warm in the sun,
and we clamor for a view of the long blue-ribboned horizon.
Just below us, another stone, a shelter,
and carved into that sparse home:

JHD
1864

On the spine of these mountains and in their impossible hollows
the outliers made their mark.
Here, voiceless and hunted they became the bear
chased by the hounds
the water that slipped over the stones
the ice that broke them.
We know nothing else of them.

Our fingers trace his letters, his time,
his breath etched into the remembering stones
we are caught in a cold current of grief
that still moves through this place
the dark eels of war stir from the deep
seeking their pleasure.

We step back,
breathe the air of the day
press our hands into moss and leaf
and things that remember only light.

–stephanie thomas berry

Graybeard Gray


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