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Blue Ridge Mountain Evensong | Kelly Kiehl Davis

Flame azaleas light the sides of the Appalachian mountains where I hop rocks beneath dissolved starlight. I reach Linville Falls and I want to go higher, to the boulder up by the moon, but I cannot go because I had promised you so many things, when I was twenty and you, thirty-five. Now I am twenty-five and you, forty, and you have married a woman who is only my words away from your worst. She may forgive you but the only blood that can absolve you is my own. If you wake more and more of these nights with a pang like a gunshot, a buckeye look in your eyes, wanting forgiveness, watch your doorstep for a jar of honey I will milk from the toxic pollen of the Flame Azalea. You’ll be alright, unless you won’t. I’ll watch over you from atop the boulder closest to the moon, sitting upon a throne of heads taken from the men who told me I could never escape you, a chain of Mountain Laurel around my neck, a dress of red azaleas on my skin, alighting the dimming sky far enough to conduct the Blue Ridge Mountain evensong to northern Appalachia and back, leading a catechism that teaches only red and orange flower petals, licks of the branches in the oak-pine forest, exculpation in the holy union of my blood and Appalachian clay.

Kelly Kiehl Davis is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati and she holds an MFA from Bowling Green State University. Her stories and poems have appeared in Contrary Magazine, Santa Fe Writer's Project Quarterly, Passages North, The Butter, decomP magazinE, and elsewhere. 

Twitter: @kelly_kiehl

Facebook: Kelly Kiehl Davis