Appalachia Heartache

Suffocating Nature, Camelia Rojas



For a time I believed in the longevity of a dew-swept skyscape,
how the sun-drop suspended itself over hazy blue hills

like in my dream of catching fireflies on thistles, of cupping
the laurel-webbed fragrance of orchards into a spoon, lilt
and scatter, fingertips dripping with the memory of return,

and I couldn’t say what, exactly, drew me to embellish faces
with butterflies or birds, tip of a brush coating thin oil over the dirt,

a kind of baptism. Perhaps I wanted some direction for children like me
who felt lost in that clearing, that dip in the rise of a summer storm cloud,
and remained grounded only to a hand. In those moments of depth held

taut by a hair strand, I remembered my mother asking me to dance
in that unfamiliar kitchen, calling my hand to twirl in her fingers

and follow her lead. The fruit on the counter was going to mold,
the sink full of unwashed dishes waiting, and it almost didn’t matter.
In the water-notes of summer, I wanted to say, I have never known longing

like I have known tenderness—camellia softening in snow, deer
on a blue road blooming orange in the cracks and pot holes. Please,

call me home, Appalachia—
your cardinal is burning,
red at the chest.



About the Author

Allison Cooke · Presbyterian College

Allison Cooke is a senior English major at Presbyterian College, with minors in Media Studies: Journalism, Art History, and Philosophy. She is passionate about feminist literary theory and is currently working on a poetry portfolio centered on her travels to Italy, Scotland, and various places around her rural South Carolina hometown. “Appalachia Heartache” first appeared in Miscellany.


About the Artist

Camelia Rojas · Loyola University

Camelia Rojas was born and raised in Puerto Rico. After graduating from Loyola University in 2016, she entered the Post-Bac Graphic Design program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). “Suffocating Nature” first appeared in Corridors.

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