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The Northern Road

The Northern Road

1.

I should have known
him but I had no prior
experience with prophets.

Something about the time of day
felt still as

_______the invisible press of tobacco,
the rustle of upturned leaves
in a thousand barns.

Finality slides deeper.
Uncut grasses roll and die.

Commodified firewood fills
the absence of orchard bones.

Other attractions:

winter anonymity,
_______once done
creeps into country,
etches convoys in the woods.

The prohibition of nostalgia
is born in
cellar holes and undone buttons.

Ochre cigarettes paper the urinal.
Letters above the caricatures.

Please proceed in an orderly fashion
toward the faith cures.

Changes that would seem evidently
_______paranormal
such as
_______the regeneration of lost fingers
do not arise
in the context of
_____________________modern healers.

Still it remains—
glass in her wound.

I never left the house
I just took the door with me.

2.

The mouth is an archway
_______semi _______elliptical

The walls and roof bow
near the centre
and retain that curvature
_______to the end.

The floor inclines upward,
at the far end comes to meet
the bent ceiling.

This excavated channel is
born of deposits and erosion.

Near the ceiling two narrow
crevices extend across
and beyond the Cave.

One has a chimney-like opening
large enough to admit _____________________a man.

This small place is known
as the ‘upper cave’
and has a history and fiction
all its own.

This is the hermitage
of river thieves and highwaymen.

Early travellers designated it
by various names, all of which
contained the word ‘Cave.’

‘It has the appearance of
something like a large oven.’

‘We beheld numbers of names
cut into the sides of the Cave.’

I don’t know what ownership means
except to say
you own the silence that surrounds you.

In dwelling
the only occupation is
the air you leave behind.

A part
or particle _______unsettled;
a disused cavern
_____________________of breath.

Won’t you
_______come______________ in?

Author’s Note: This poem was influenced by my time with the residents of John Morony Correctional Facility and the landscape that surrounds it. It also responds to geological formations in an area known as Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. Specifically, the place known as Cave-in-Rock that overlooks the Ohio River and the Natchez Trace. Throughout the nineteenth century, Cave-in-Rock was the seasonal home of generations of highwaymen and river pirates, who escaped detection within the inner cave. I am grateful for Otto A. Rothert’s excellent regional history, The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock (1924). The quotes in part two are adapted from a letter by the British Astronomer Francis Baily, dated April 16, 1797, detailing his visit to Cave-in-Rock.

___________________________________________________
Lindsay Tuggle grew up in Alabama, Kentucky, and Kansas. She moved to Australia ten years ago, and now lives in Austinmer. She has written poetry for most of her life, though she only began writing for publication a few years ago. Lindsay is interested in the relationship between language and place, especially vanished or vanishing places: those that exist now only in the memories of the people who once lived there. Her poetry has been published in HEAT and as part of The Red Room Company’s Dust Poems and Unlocked projects. In 2009, her work was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry.