by Miranda Stone
Strip mining scars
the bare skin of the mountains.
Ridges of stone and wood
rise against the sky, blotting out
early afternoon sunlight.
Niches carved in slate
house the copper moonshine stills. In barns,
in shacks men stir sugar and corn
to produce liquid clear and pure
as the strychnine the holy rollers drink
in plank churches on Sundays.
Some survive the serpent’s bite.
Those who succumb lack faith in the god
speaking in tongues to the congregation.
Even in the mountain mist of dawn
when the bobcats slink through the woods,
a single searchlight washes over stone.
A train piled high with powdered coal
snakes its way past clapboard houses.
High above on the mountainside,
rickety shafts sleep, shut up in darkness.