Glenmary Sister

Falling Rock Warning Sign

by Karen Luke Jackson

for Maureen

Fresh out of high school, a novice in a shortened habit
scoured remote hollers, visited coal camps, argued scrip

was little more than slave wages if miners could only spend it
at the company store, accompanied a teen-age mother

to DC to testify about hunger. One night, on call in those coves,
she rounded a curve as rocks avalanched onto the road.

Boulders would have crushed her
had she not braked, swerved.

Fifty years later, no longer a nun, this grandmother
points out roadside tipples, some abandoned, others groaning.

She protests machines ripping open seams
in a field named Pocahontas. Ridges, more mesa

than mountain top, loom as locomotives
heaped with Wise County coal—blasted chunks

of ancient sunshine—snake through a tunneled gorge;
their load, scabs of black gold, to warm fine new homes.

Karen Luke Jackson
Paying attention, turning to wonder, and giving voice provide a latticework for Karen Luke Jackson’s writing. Her award-winning poems have appeared in Ruminate, Friends Journal, Broad River Review, Kestrel, The Great Smokies Review, and Kakalak. Karen lives in Flat Rock, NC. When she’s not writing, she companions people on their spiritual journeys.


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