My great great grandfather was born
Not more than 25 miles from where
he died

He could walk the dirt road along George’s creek, if he liked
To the little white chapel
Near the turn
Where the stones are green and cool
And the air a mist
A softening of the world
Felt on the hairs of his body

He could walk and see his mother’s grave
And his aunt’s
And cousin after wave of cousin
Rolling from the chapel
Filling the holler
Up and over the hills
And then flooding the world
Spreading across the continent
In dated granite stamps
The footpaths of time

Where is home now, Lord?
Where and who are my people?

My people are buried across the world
Yet they knew each other not

I can drive to the graves that I’ve been to
I can return, the hope of all people

Although the mental spell required
To activate the memory
To guide me to the picture
To grant me the path
Grows unused
I practice the path mentally sometimes
I have guideposts, sigils
I do not have highway numbers

This is how it happens, you see

I repent and relent
I will do better but still
It goes

the exit
the turn
the chapel
the hill

Always the hill
Over the hill and down into the holler
Near the green turn
So far from everyone you’ve loved

Daniel Hayes is a writer living and working in Central Kentucky.