the light in my childhood bedroom
i might could stay here if i wasn't trying so hard to leave and i'd've let the murmur of anxious birds in my chest carry me far away from the ache of these walls a long time ago if my heart didn't know the tug of this home to be a reflex. it is a strange thing to spend so much time talking about the importance of being able to stay and thrive in your home community and to know you are not ready to do that work. there is an unsettling in living in a place you don't call yourself back to, like how i live in knoxville, tn, but i'm from boone, nc. there is something that isn't quite comfort in knowing that loving this home requires distance and there is an inevitability in being inextricably bound to it. my body is a muscle memory for the love of this place and for the leaving of it.
there's no mountain-top removal mining in the state of tennessee, but god damn these new topographics.
i've been thinking a lot about the people who came before us, who did the groundwork, who made it possible for us to do the work we do now. i come from a long line of West Virginia teachers from Summers County and i have been thinking of them as i have watched the beautiful resistance unfold in West Virginia in the last week.
there's my aunt Lula, she was an english and home economics teacher at Hinton High School, she loved her students and was beloved in return.
my aunt Nina was the Hinton High School librarian, she worked long past when she was supposed to retire because she loved her work but also because the state took her retirement benefits away.
my aunt Sis was a teacher before she had to quit her job to take care of her daughter Margie who would die of brain cancer at age 16.
my aunt Pearl was the principal of Hinton High School and before that she taught science at a school in sandstone.
my aunt Harriet (not pictured) taught geography at Hinton High School, i met a one of her students this summer who told me Harriet was her favorite teacher.
i am proud to be of these West Virginia women who taught their community and were beloved in turn. women who taught students who would become teachers whose students would also become teachers who would join arms with their colleagues across the state in a historic wildcat strike. i am so proud and though i am in Tennessee, my whole heart is up in West Virginia on the picket line.