Fingered trees crawl over mountains of ash, stretching toward the blush of a Southern sun. Houses bow to withered rocks, backs exposed to every bird of prey. None of this is worth calling home. Not the gap-toothed fences dividing land into wilted pastures, not the buzzards, coasting flat-winged above starved deer, not the hairpin turns that cut jagged stone like the slicing-open of a body, the incision of a single vein. Still. When smoke rises over the valleys, choking the snow that clings to fallen trunks, I look for fire. And still. When you come from the dry brush, parting the heather with your tendrilled hands, I fall to my knees, searching for the mouth of the blue hill that bore you. Where did you go, thief of mine? Copper floods the canyon, each muddied river spilling into its sister, each pine still clothed in its wash of emerald. The only star we could name hovers, whining in its seat. Only now do I believe you when you said Everything comes here to be abandoned. Yes. We know what they will pull from the water. Yes. Thief of mine. These hills are left heathen. I am not strong enough to bring this place up from the deep. And this place is not ready for anything other than rot.
Meghan Miraglia is the author of Work/house, her debut chapbook that explores the narratives of pauper inmates living in Ireland during the Great Famine. She is the winner of the 2023 Claire Keyes Undergraduate Poetry Prize, and her work is featured or is forthcoming in The Santa Clara Review, The Broadkill Review, The 2022 BC Intercollegiate Undergraduate Poetry Festival Chapbook, and others. She is the poetry editor of Soundings East.