Tag Archives: Virginia

Highway 15, Central Virginia


Highway 15, Central Virginia

~ Hecate Demetersdatter

And Autumn after Autumn,
Virginia’s seeds keep falling
On this red clay.
On this clay made red by iron,
On this iron that ruddies my blood,
On this clay that pentacles the hematite moving through my veins.

First Peoples track turkeys
and sedum falls on clay.
Englishmen rave in Jamestown,
and jimson weed falls on clay.
Settlers light out for the Blue Ridge,
and ragweed falls on clay.
Slaves follow Miss Harriet through bogswamps,
and toadflax falls on clay.

Vultures eat dead deer.
Chipmunks fill their cheeks with seeds.
Raccoons wash paw paws in sleepy creeks.
Mushrooms decay into duff.

As blue and grey collide, brother spilling brother’s blood,
asters, white and blue, fall on clay.
(Iron red blood drips onto iron red clay. One thing becomes another, in the Mother, in the Mother. Perhaps when a thousand Autumns pass, we’ll know what this became. It’s clear we’re still processing this, still working out the story.)
As sharecroppers trade scrip for flour and coffee,
scarlet magnolia seeds fall on clay.
As cotton is king and ragtime plays,
horsenettle falls on clay.

Women make sausage gravy, die in bloody births, wring chickens’ necks, make quilts, and ostracize each other, as colonized people do.
Children skip stones.
Old people eat grits inside log cabins made close with smoke.
Knights of the KKK burn crosses.

As boys go off to die for Duke Ferdinand,
Autumn camellia seeds fall on clay.
As radios play jazz,
withered poke berries fall on clay.
As we all get rich on stocks,
broomsedge seeds fall on clay.
Miz Holiday’s strange fruit drops to the ground and is buried under clay.

The WPA builds damns, cuts roads, seeds fish.
The black diaspora swells. New York. Baltimore. Chicago. Detroit.
Bottle trees sprout outside respectable homes.
Tobacco money grows colleges and gardens.
Segregated drinking fountains stain the land.
Separate is proposed as a synonym for equal.

No one believes it.

Seeds fall.

Weeds grow along the liminal space between pavement and pine forest.
Old women gather cool plantain leaves, ripe blackberries, and the birth control of Queen Anne’s seeds.
Chicory flowers escape from Monticello and bloom blue across the state.
Foxtail and goosegrass feed the birds.

And Virginia’s clay absorbs them all.

Each Autumn, there is a new harvest.

We drive past, drunk on dappled sunlight and shadow, in love with every weed we see. We, too, are made of this harvest. We, too, will fall on clay.

Picture found here.

Wonder Everywhere


I think that I saw a hyena this morning. In McLean, Virginia. McLean’s one of Northern Virginia’s more upscale neighborhoods (which is saying something), but that means that many yards have a woodland buffer between the McMansions on adjacent lots.

I stopped at Balducci’s on my way to work because today was the 25% off a case of wine sale. On my way back, an animal ran into the road and stopped traffic in both directions in order to grab some roadkill and, after being honked at by cars in both directions, run off into some brush by the side of the road. At first, from its size, I thought it must be a rather large fox, although it had the bright morning sun behind it and I couldn’t see too clearly. But it didn’t have a fox’s trademark tail and it had striped markings that I’ve never seen before on a fox. It could have been a coyote or a wolf, but the pictures I’ve looked at online make me think it was a hyena.

All day, as I read transcripts, made notes for briefs, and marked up cases, I kept remembering the animal, giving thanks for an early-morning encounter with something unknown. I can’t find any indication that hyenas live in Virginia; Kentucky seems to be the closest state with semi-verified sitings. But I am full of reverence for the manifestations of the Great Goddess that clean our roads and ensure that even random death serves a greater purpose.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.