FINDING DIRECTION IN WEST VIRGINIA
The crosses appear in threes — wood or steel
or greening copper. In Hurricane, a set built
from rusted keys. By the fountain downtown
in Beckley we meet John, a historian with a split-
hook on his right arm; he tells us the crosses offer
protection. From what we say. Who can answer?
We walk to the cemetery as the sun blinks itself
out behind a bank of clouds. Everything in town
faces east-west, he explains. Alpha and Omega,
of course: we spend our whole lives looking
forward or back. We forget where we are. Every
thing in town, he says, except this. At our feet:
a small set of granite steps topped with a trio
of crosses facing north-south. It's a lot of work
to bury a witch, and only stone can hold her
— peine forte et dure, they say. They buried her
head first: seven nails keeping her jaws closed,
weight of the stone bearing down on her feet.
In this forgotten corner the bergamot runs wild,
sprouting first from the smallest crack at the back
of the grave. It opens wider every year.
Rachel Bunting lives and writes in Southern New Jersey between the Delaware River and the Pine Barrens. Her poems can be found in both print and online journals, including PANK, Toad, Weave Magazine and Tuesday: An Art Journal. Her chapbook Ripe Again was published in 2008 by Finishing LIne Press, and she is currently at work on a full-length manuscript.