During this Women’s History Month, please join Appalachia Bare in congratulating Danita Dodson on her outstanding debut book of poetry, Trailing the Azimuth. The following is a poem selected from the book. Join us Thursday for a review of Dodson’s book by our own Associate Editor, poet and litterateur, Edward Francisco.
Mountain Woman in Four Seasons
Watching the purple horizon lift upward
like a cathedral blessing in the loveliest
time of the year, I have seen my sister
standing regal in her green summer dress,
country girl with Smoky Mountain eyes,
who fingers the delicate flowers that stick
to her skin like Monet impressions
as she swims seas of woodland phlox.
And often, when in this cool valley,
I tilt my head upward to the mountains
and feel still the fervent comfort
of Mama’s golden-leaf arm
as I look deeply into the autumn
fury of her protective gazes,
angry at the hidebound ones who jeer
at her hillbilly girl.
There are times too that Mamaw
is quite near me, living on borrowed time
in the Appalachian woodlands,
with her winter-white chill and fallen hair,
shaking me with grandmotherly urgency,
calling me away from diamond dreams.
In her bare-tree limbs, I notice
a strength more forceful than iron.
I’ve watched these—my women kin,
these stalwart mountains—as I’ve walked
down dirt paths, seeking my bearings.
But right now I see myself, as I stand
where the spring stream gleams,
my reflection looming wider and taller
than it ever is without the hills behind me.
Of course, the city mirrors catch me too,
but they just don’t seem to recognize
the magnitude of a Mountain Woman.
Danita Dodson is the co-editor of Teachers Teaching Nonviolence (DIO Press, 2020) and the Guest Editor of the Ahimsa Center Newsletter at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Her critical articles have been published in literary journals, including an interview with novelist Margaret Atwood and seminal scholarship on The Handmaid’s Tale.
She lives in a small town called Sneedville in the Cumberland Gap region of East Tennessee, where she hikes, explores local history, spends time with her family, and participates in community development. A dedicated educator, she currently teaches composition, literature, and humanities at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee.
— Excerpt from Danita Dodson’s bio on her website.