Dear Governor Northam,
I’m writing to you in regard to the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
My question begins with this: do you understand the impact this pipeline could have on one of the oldest mountain ranges? If you have ever travelled the range of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will see how majestic that this landscape is—it’s almost religious; when the sun hits the mountains and you see the green hills rolling into blue waves, you witness the greatness that is this earth that we live on. So, I ask, why risk such a gift?
But the integrity of the mountains is only half of the problem. My family has resided in the southwest region of Virginia for five generations, they have made these mountains their home, they have become part of the land. Much like that of Theresa “Red” Terry and her husband. This land becomes a part of our family—something that connects you to the ones who came before. No amount of money can replace this type of connection to family. Eminent domain will not change the way you understand this land. You feel it in your gut.
The people who live along this range are among those who feel this way, yet you may be wondering why some agreed to sell their land willingly. As you are probably aware, there is a vast amount of poverty that reigns in the Appalachians. Some need the money, even if that means disconnecting from a piece of themselves. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of desperation. Which is a greater problem for another day.
With that, I beg you to help these people. I beg you to help us keep something that keeps us attached to our roots. Our feet on the land of our ancestors. I beg you.
And my heart withers,
like flowers without water
when will my body stop
I am breathing!
I am trying!
I am biting my skin!
Sweat pours from my pores;
I am all alone
and my heart withers.
Will you think of me when
this world turns to dust?
or will it all be too much?
I will scream
what can i say?
when you’re on the floor
your body no longer yours,
do you pray? or
do you linger on the edge,
wondering how far it will push you
until you fall?
I just can’t forget it when it’s sitting right in front of me. Yes I’m chewing my gum and they’re sitting right in front of me. Chew faster., Grind your teeth. Bite your nails. Think of it in between your fingers. Imagine the smoke. Smell it in the air.
Then light one.
I get drunk only to say the things that I wish to say when sober.
With sobriety comes responsibility, and I don’t want to be responsible for the silence that follows the stream of love that will flow out of my mouth and onto the floor.
I don’t want to remember how you watch me try and clean the permanent stains my words have left on the carpet of your mind.
And so I drink, and I love you.
Have you ever wanted to push a pen against your skin
without the consequences of a mark?
To feel it glide across the inside of your wrists, your hands…
Doing everything it isn’t supposed to.
But our skin is so vulnerable to stains,
it would only succumb to the black ink;
and everyone would see the mess
you have made.
I cannot see past
Like another battle
I don’t have the energy
Leave and see what the rest of the world has to offer you.
Move to a city that feels like another country, even if it’s in the same state.
Face the people who point out your differences with their eyes.
Discover living in a world where timing is everything, especially during rush hours.
Make an amount of money that seemed out of reach before.
Realize that said money isn’t even enough to pay an electricity bill.
Feel lonely in a room full of people because no one smiles at strangers.
Figure out that diversity doesn’t mean acceptance.
Experience suburban claustrophobia.
Dream about the beauty you grew up ignoring.
Go home and remember you were lucky.
(Here’s a poem that reflects my consistent internal dialogue!)
I can’t tell you what I feel like because
Even I don’t know what I feel like;
It’s more of a mess of colors like,
Blues and reds
With hints of green,
But only because your eyes are green,
And this is coming off kind of strong but
Did you know you say all the right things sometimes?
But all the wrong things the other times,
And although you don’t always listen,
When you do listen,
And that means more than you know,
Or I know
Or they know—
Look I don’t know how to end this
Or stupid run on sentence,
Just like I don’t know how to tell you
“I love you” or
that I’m lost when you’re absent.