On Stone Mountain
she lay gray and still on the crimson soil of Georgia
—W. E. B. Du Bois
Waves of granite pavement outcrops, river
      of shadows, ghostly in the clearing
between hickory and oak, the path blazed
      with autumn. Underfoot, the mineral facts
of these rocks: quartz, feldspar, and mica.
      A century ago, they planted a burning cross
on the summit before Birth of a Nation.
      This year Mercedes-Benz USA
stunt drove its new luxury SUV to the top.
      In recreation we trust!

As we made our way up, separately
      and singly, black, white, brown, yellow
bodies, pilgrims all, exercisers in neon
      scaling the scarred face of the mountain,
my mother light and limber leading the charge,
      my father with his bad knees falling
behind, and me shuttling in between,
      deserters from some routed army, talking
little, fleeing another lost cause, I heard
      Beyoncé and birdsong call and respond….

That was October. Then November
      happened. Late December, we return
to Stone Mountain (one thing we can agree on).
      Rain from last night’s storm clarifies
the vernal pools. We find our names again
      in strangers’ initials etched like xenolith graffiti,
recognize the stunted, scraggly red cedar
      under whose shade we now rest, weathered
as these gray foldings and faultings,
      in silence, our bedrock.
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