The Green Hills
The green, green hills of Tennessee
Were tall and full of glory
As they always were and ever will be
To a barefoot child who ran there.
The skies were bright blue,
Filled with clouds of white cotton
Floating along lazily in the azure expanse,
In the wrath of a gold, blazing sun.
It was an involuntary journey,
Going back into the past
That had molded and made me
Who I was, who I am.
I didn’t want to be there, like that
A stranger, a visitor coming home from the world
One that had run from those wild, wandering hills
As fast as my young legs could take me.
I didn’t know what to do, where to look
I didn’t know how to feel, how to act
It was as if I walked in a long dreamless dream
Where everything was familiar but foreign.
There was family there
Some that I barely knew,
People who wanted to know and love me
But really, had no idea how.
It was strange
And beyond strange
In that pastoral setting
Such a postcard of a place that never quite was.
It was where I learned about life
And how not to live it
Where I learned how to die
And how to avoid it.
A scene that seems never to change,
Those hills rising high in the mists of the morning
Like castles in a little girl’s mind.
It was there I created a world
That would never be mine
Lying in meadows, fishing in creeks,
Praying into blue skies with my eyes full of tears.
Looking for answers
To a heart full of questions
Wondering how, why and when that the answers would come
Listening for whispers that I’d never hear.
That beautiful place
Was my prison, my dungeon
Jailed in that Eden by the need to control,
The need to suppress and the need to possess.
I was my father’s daughter
But he was never my Daddy
Just the despot of paradise
And a cloud blocking the sun.
He still lives where the hills make a hollow
Crippled and bitter, with a heart slowly dying,
Failing from disuse, still congested with scorn.
We buried my brother beneath that green earth,
Buried someone so gentle
And someone who was good
In the place of a man who could never show love.
There was a peace there
In the arms of the forests
It crept in with the terror
And the fear of the unknown.
It tried to comfort me, tried to hold me
But I couldn’t see it through my tears
Now, maybe I can feel it’s touch
Now that I’m far away.
I laid my brother’s funeral rose
Against my mother’s tombstone
Her sisters sang, (the two that’s left)
Old hymns from yesterday.
It was surreal, like life and death
And sadly bittersweet
Like a photograph you have to take
But you never want to see.
What is it about going home
That makes you feel so old?
Makes you remember your every thought
And relive your every dream?
There were some mysteries solved
But I left with different questions
So many scars were opened up
That I thought had long been healed.
How can ugliness live in a place of such beauty?
Innocence die, in the face of disdain?
I do not understand, Lord, I do not understand
Shouldn’t there be answers now, shouldn’t there be love?
I feel like such a child again
A new-born child sent back in time
To the place that formed this wounded woman,
Birthed poems of joy and dark despair.
I don’t know how to write of this
Mere words somehow cannot convey
The pictures painted on my mind,
The flood that’s raging through my soul.
Those green, green hills of Tennessee
My hell, my heaven, my childhood home
Faded with sunset in the rear view mirror
And I’ve never felt so all alone.
August 28, 2011
the occasion of my
brother Mike's death