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Of all the trees, Sam likes the Hemlocks best,
those shaggy dark limbs hangin' down like his beard,
blowing in the wind
The trunk of the one at the top of the bluff
on the left makes a hard lean along the edge
before bending skyward.
A nearby stone outcrop asks him
to rest under the canopy
of orange and yellow autumn,
clear blue sky peakin' through.


Sam's favorite place is in a copse of Hemlocks
halfway to the back and thirty yards up from the crick.
Two rock bluffs twelve feet high
and forty apart at the mouth angle back
to form a little v canyon.
A wet weather spring at the back
where the cliffs meet
trickles down to the ground before disappearing
and he can hear the water splashin'
in an underground pool, sounds like maybe four feet down,
but hidden under the bluff.
Right smack in the middle of the canyon
grows an old Holly tree,
figures it must have been planted by elves.
Says, "Feels all kinds of enchanted."
Sittin' under the Holly, Sam can look down on the crick
splashin' over the boulders tumbled there.
Sometimes Louise brings a quilt her grandmother made
to spread across the mossy ground,
Sam likes to lie there on his back
and watch the light dapple her hair and shoulders,,
rockin' to the music only two can make.


Sam was walkin' his motor
between the tree and his truck
caught his foot between
a root and the footpeg;
twisted it all the way around to the right
pulled all his tendons and hurt like hell.
Said, ...well never mind what he said,
but  it wasn't pretty.
Neither was his ankle, turned all black,
had to go to the ER for an x-ray.
Louise said, "nothin's broke, keep it up,
keep it on ice, it'll hurt awhile."
Sam looked her hard in the eye, said, "Thanks a lot."
Went home and chopped wood all day.
It was bad, but easier to walk on than
a rollover sprain, just ached all the time.
Didn't get any sleep that night, so
next mornin' he cut himself a hickory walkin' stick,
got Joe to go to the drug store
and fill his prescription.
Likes the way that stuff works.
Two weeks later,
he did exactly the same thing
on exactly the same root,
hurt twice as bad the second time,
but he didn't tell anybody.


"Louise, ever been to Murfreesboro?"
"You bet I have, I went to MTSU
for my nursing degree, graduated in '84"
"You never told me that!
It's where I got my BA!"
"Well, damn, we ought to talk more often."
"You wanna ride on over there,
look the old place over,
maybe check out Readyville,
get some Hickory King corn meal
at an old mill I used to know?"
"Sure, I got four days off this week,
can we leave Thursday?
But let's take the Camaro."
Cool, sounds fun."
Sam made himself useful
while Louise did all the drivin'
read to her from the poetry
he'd written.
Figured he'd see if Dr. Connelly was still there,
maybe get him to look at his new stuff,
talk some more about that paper he'd written
on Chaucer's Tales,
"Whan that April with his showres soote..."


Thanksgivin' was only about six weeks away
and Sam sure hoped his ankle was better,
cause everybody in those mountains
played fiddles, guitars, banjos, jugs,
or somethin,' some of 'em could even sing.
Said, "I gotta do some dancin'.
Drink some corn squeezins."
Louise just laughed,
said "We get done with pickin' that pig,
all that turkey, beans , dressin,' taters and gravy,
pumpkin pie and all the rest, hell son,
you won't even be able to move."
Sam flashed a wry smile, right eye twinklin,'
"Just fuel for the furnace, Babe."





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