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Morning Has Broken

by Greg Grant

Morning has broken over the Smokey Mountains,
Filtering through the hazy tops,
Sneaking in like a teenager home past curfew.

I look out the window, awake on a bus of sleeping people
Endrowsened by the numbing humming and climate control.
I cannot sleep, beckoned as I am by next curve.

These mountains are my heritage,
Though I only know them second hand,
My people having left for the rubber mills of Akron, Ohio,
And the summer cottages by the lake
They bought cheap in the Depression and winterized.

Every half-mile or so down the pass is a runaway truck ramp,
Tons of sand flush against the mountain side,
Sand of my sandbox,
Sand of my grandmother's garden,
Where the new land brought forth corn, green beans, and strawberries.
Sometimes, Grandma would get shortcake,
And we would kneel in the garden
To the royal red strawberry
Until our hands were stained,
and then we would sit around the kitchen
and Grandma would tell stories about West Virginia-
Mountain Mama (take me home, country odes)-
about rowing across the Kanawha River
Every day to get to school,
About the feud, McCoys squatting on Great-Great-Grandfather Martin's land,
Uncle Cecil catching a McCoy in a bear trap.

Nobody's sure how many of the old family legends are actually true.
Some stories are best left vague and hazy,
Like the unseen tops of the Smokey Mountains.

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