by Danny Adams
Ferrum, Virginia

This poem appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of Appalachian Heritage magazine.
It is reprinted with the author's permission.

Mountain husks with children
underneath slowly dying,
Chestnuts, sleep:
you nature-betrayed sentinels
of aging memories
choked in adolescence
rising tilted above your
ubiquitous mountainsides
conquered by oaks,
yet we give you no rest.
With arms wrapped with hands unmet
around your rotting bark
we peer into
your hollow poisoned veins
and touch, and mourn,
learn, and hope.
My children
are robbed of you
except as windblown saplings
bearing optimistically green leaves,
discovered on hikes,
genesis of tears,
leaving us only
to whisper,
Tomorrow—let us
disturb your sleep
just a while longer
so you might wake again

Danny Adams is a writer who works at the Ferrum College library. When he shared this poem in Facebook, The American Chestnut Association responded, "This is a beautiful poem.... especially...the part about discovering saplings and large trunks on hikes and the hopefulness at the end." Adams noted, "It was inspired by me finding a nearly-adult tree during a hike on the Appalachian Trail in SW Virginia, and knowing that within a few months the tree was likely to be dead by that time next year" (Feb. 7, 2013).

The American Chestnut Foundation, with a national office in Asheville, NC, "is working to restore the American chestnut tree to our eastern woodlands to benefit our environment, our wildlife, and our society."

Fiction and Poetry Index
Complete List of AppLit Pages on Poetry
Nature and the Environment in Appalachian Literature

This page created 2/7/13   |   Last update: 2/8/13

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