Cartography of Self (Leaving)

My traitor tongue whispers tales like wind
through mountain hollows, hugging teeth

like clouds that cradle snowy peaks. I’ve mapped
this topography in abundance, traced familiar trails

like lines inked by well-worn pen, stain
left to pool at base of storied waters. I’ve touched

these knees to dirt, legs bent like switchback on old
country roads, rooting fingers in mud rough enough

to leave nails piled like rocks in memorial,
pointing at zenith: Ozark, Blue Ridge,

Appalachian—each peak a hole
in my sham geography.

Photo by Mitsuo Komoriya on Unsplash

Melinda A. Ruth

Melinda has pieces featured or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Pleiades, Red Earth Review, Sierra Nevada Review and more. Her chapbook, “A Name Among Bone,” has been listed as a semi-finalist in the Spring 2020 Black River Chapbook Contest through Black Lawrence Press. She is a Phd student at Georgia State University with a concentration in poetry.