For Dr. Cathy Sepko
She saw the light first as a little girl
In the hard knuckle granite of West Virginia –
A distant fire in a snowy wood
Filled with the paddings of foxes,
Crickets in the indigo dusk.
She learned to read the braille of wood bark
Leading toward that flame,
The rust of sky heavy on the trees.
Can you hear them? she would call to us,
Can you hear the songs of old?
The wide winds of rhythm,
The open mouth of the moon
Cooing along the quiet river?
She taught us in the forest
To feel the poems in the pines,
To dig our teeth deep into the dirt to taste the earth.
She taught the rocks to rhyme,
Pressed a shard of coal into the stone
To carve her spot in time.
And now, she sits on a smooth stump before the fire
Surrounded by the faces of a generation,
Ten thousand family trees
Singing softly in the starlight, leaning in to listen
As she warms her tired feet.