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August in the Blue Ridge

by Ellen Carter

Grandmother tonight we sleep in your mountains
the men smoke their cigars
I know it is the whippoorwill who sings,
you have taught me

looking my way, the men say firelight plays against my face
in shadows
thinking of you, I am strangely singular
there is more to know than which bird calls in darkness
my heart leaps to many things,
is caught by very few

to stay in the forest I should know more than I do
the men say no, here is the sound of water and much dry wood
that is all we need until tomorrow
I spend myself as slowly as the last flames

your habits teach me to love careful things
an heirloom
how I listen to my heart unfold and fold again
I still undo a wrong stitch


Ellen Carter grew up in Japan and Germany, then moved to Washington D.C., where she began writing. (Fall 1974)

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