Our parents came down from the mountains
a few hundred miles apart long the Appalachian Trail.
After the war many left there
homes looking for work in the industrial cities of the north.
Some stayed behind. Their grandfathers never made it through
the mountains migrating so they made homes their
and the smartest ones prospered even there.
But our parents saw television and our parents saw that
was not a place they would make a life
and though it hurt them deeply to leave their homes
and though they missed it in their bones
we were forever grateful for their departure.
Our parents have the mountains in them
and our parents learned they were smarter than these city boys
and our parents taught us not to be denied.
They would not be denied
the material things they coveted
and they ran up credit card debts
though they were smarter than these city boys, they had not learned their games.
As children we thought the world was fair and as children
we did not realize how much our birthplaces mattered
and we did not realize what it was to choose
a place to make your home.
Now the time has come for choosing and the valleys are all empty.
Our parents never made it to the cities but their homes in the valleys were wide
and had satellites.
Our parents picked new values
we took as obvious and boring.
We did not appreciate how hard they had worked
and we did not comprehend the self-hatred that accompanied them
or the demons they kept at bay.
We cursed them for losing the games and
like all children assumed they were given what they gave us.
In this simple and evil way we denied their life’s work.
Wandering out of the valley
through the mountains to the city we picked a place to make a home,
we plucked values out of the air and questioned everything.
How can we be grateful for what given to us so freely?
How can we appreciate when they cried and sweated and grit their teeth
and took such punishment and rose again
all so we would know nothing of that suffering.