When they found Emeline, a nail
held her sack dress together
at the neck. She lived by gathering herbs
to sell for curing leather from the land
her people held since they took it from the Cherokee,
quilted mountainsides in Appalachia
where they hewed walnut into rocking chairs,
and sang the stony country’s blessings be,
and ballads carried in their ears from Scotland.
From my grandmother, her granddaughter,
I have one word in her dialect: stime.
Long-ah, half-rhyme with steam, its meaning: not enough.
As, there’s nary stime of tea nor sugar nar.
They took apart her house to save the boards.
Off a dirt road, in iron light, in the mountain graveyard
her clan’s settler stones grow up with moss
thick as the harmonies in shape-note tune.
Among mushrooms, ivy, rhododendron
are tracings, the shadowy foundations
of the cabin where she persevered and died.