Panther lies next to Wharncliffe and Wharncliffe next to Devon and Devon next to Delorme. In each a single fisherman casts in the slow, black water of the Big Sandy. Catfish is the whisker lurking behind the bobbing cork. He lives, it seems, in dense night from day to day until the fisherman from Wharncliffe pulls him out to be fried in tin-roof, tarpaper shacks from there to Matewan. Politicians call this valley a depressed area. But, under the sun, my heart will not have it so. Straight up from the brackish water, up the mountainside, green pointed trees as close as bird's wings grow fierce and clean, and then for miles beside the tracks the river moves faster over the rocks and the water isn't black at all-- only the silt underneath. The water over the rocks is running clear and cold and pure.
Reprinted by permission of Robin Weeks Pagliasotti. All rights reserved.