“I don’t know of a single miner who climbed out unbroken.
I know where his black lung is, where’s his purple heart?”
I think we took away his purple heart the day we took away his mountain.
I saw how they took a bomb and made the mountain disappear.
We ate the mountaintop first, like a wedding cake,
dragging out forest nature moist with money
“What do you value more than any amount of money?”
We seem to find value in dismantling what gave us life.
Unappreciated mother mountain gave us birth
we visit her to make ruins and marvel at her utility
she spent forty thousand years creating soil for a forest
we call this soil ‘overburden’
we scar the ground, our thirsty energylust
sipping steel from deep earth-wrinkled mountaintop
“It is not appropriate to live in a place that profits
off of death,” he says, with death in his own voice.
Breathe together, conspire, draw in deep thin mountain air,
repeat, “everything has not led to you,” as you take in life support,
breathe out oneness and destroy the golden parachute
that you’ve bought for yourself to escape culpability.
He unwraps a green string, a gift (which we cut into pieces)
Hold them against our wrists (we all conspire)
He tells us this gift means we are somebody,
we are not discrete beings, apart from nature,
we have a reason to be and the power to overburden.
(Fastening knots) we tighten ourselves together
our little friendship bracelet with the earth
“I’m sorry I waited so long to meet you,” I think,
my fellow earth-friends rising to breathe with me.
We look around our little space station
each time I see my wristlet I feel
past the gashed memory of mountaintops
Haunting wind withers across barren hills
Mother earth clots sprinkled between flimsy stones
“We have assassinated our ecosystem,” the Mountain-Keeper says,
but we’ll keep touching our halved strings-on-wrists.
About the Author
Cory Schutter is a Bonner Scholar and a rising junior at the University of Richmond. He has a passion for service learning and is interested in the intersections between public memory and civic engagement.