the old men in this part of the world
used to pass on tradition in rocking chairs
father and son, mother and daughter
believing they were immovable
come hell or high water.
but now there’s fire on the mountain
and dirt on the grave
the creeks a’risin
and perhaps what we stand to lose
was never meant to be saved.
tradition dies slow.
slower than men.
ghosts don’t haunt the hollows
but pride does.
in these hills
old men died
with one last rebel yell
that hangs in the air, still
like the last word of a Sunday revival.
and now, the old voices swell, and beg the question:
Will the crosses on the mountain
ever burn brighter
than the stars
C.F Shushok is a poet and writer from the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. Their work explores regional place Southern lineage, queer identity in the mountains, politics, and his deep roots within Southern and Appalachian Christianity. Currently, they study at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.
His words are perpetually on loan from the hills and the people that inhabit them.
C.F. Shushok’s poem “Giles county rapture” received an Honorable Mention award in Appalachia Bare‘s 2021 George Scarbrough Poetry Contest.
**Featured image “Cross and Fire” by basswulf on flickr