Traveling East to West in West Virginia Takes Some Doing

Carl Nelson

In fact, being West Virginia,
it wasn’t that easy to get here.
For the greater part, we wandered south
from Pennsylvania,
and have been doing so ever since,
travelling down the Great Appalachian Escarpment
and splaying out into Georgia, while,
in some parts, chasing the Indians before us.

The ridges run north to south,
and the rivers south to north,
and moving west to east
doesn’t go any faster either.
Since it’s so hard to get around,
maybe they shouldn’t;
a lot of the natives just figured
God wanted them here.

The forested shale hillsides sprinkled in dead leaves
are slippery as hell,
and pretty much the whole state is mountains.
Now if you flattened the place out, as they say,
you’d have something.
Somewhere people could earn a good living
and stay or leave, as they saw fit.
But that place isn’t here,

where we’re just a spine
along an old dinosaur’s backbone,
whose feet are fossilized in oil shale.
We go back millions of years
to when leather wings beat the air,
and about the last time creatures
could easily get
anywhere.