Upon My Return to Appalachia

there will be no sorghum in the valleys,
no crawdads or whippoorwills in their hidden places,

nor those stout beams of chestnut lining my grandparents’ fence.
The churches will stand empty by the roadsides,

the blackberry brambles will sag with rotted fruit.
The recipes will be forgotten, the hearth cold.

There will just be the mountains, old and still,
and the sound of someone wailing from the next ridge.