Morning Walk on the Last Day


Thirty days hath September. Listen:
leaves remain,  are parchment, crisp
rasp against each other–grains of sand
tides September into autumn. The sound
of conch held to ear an oracle
of white noise a sea
of wind in the tops of trees
graying gaunt. Still dark, not still–
Orion watches waiting an arrow
drawn, a moving target somewhere
in the gloom below.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. What a lovely poem, Fred.
    I have just caught up with baby Henry’s news. It was so surprising and joyous to see the lovely photo of him on his website, with his eyes ope lying on his mother’s chest. I have sure been grieving for your family. Now I have some hope for a miraculous outcome, and I hope you do, too. The doctors were not predicting him to improve like this, so it appears that miracles are happening all along. It also appears that Henry is going to live, and I am confident his life will be full of miracles, no matter what form they take.