Issue One, Poetry

It Takes a Pick Axe

By Elizabeth Cunningham

Through a broad valley,
between dark, constant mountains,
an icy river rushes.
Forced by the runoff of avalanches,
it grinds boulders to pebbles,
and hurtles massive trees askew.

Adjacent to a curve in this river,
There is my daughter’s farm,
a pause in the tumultuous landscape.
A meadow of sweet long grasses,
where you might see a feather float
to rest
on a narrow green leaf
shimmering with perfectly round drops of dew.
Or a calm Elk doe fade silently back
into the forest at dawn.

The seasons of that home revolve around
a resolve to survive off that harsh land.
The work begins with the grit of the mountains,
soil nothing much but grey stones
that split a spade.
It takes a pickaxe to dig a hole.

But the people living there have children
and they will break their backs for them.
They will build their own soil
with goat shit and refuse,
plant every moment the sun shines
in the long summer days,
though forest fires burn all around them
and the river
carries their lives away.