Your hair is growing long, Uncle Ambrose,
And the strands of your beard are like willow sprays
Hanging over Troublesome Creek's breeze in August.
Uncle Ambrose, your hands are heavy with years,
Seamy with the ax's heft, the plow's hewn stock,
The thorn wound and the stump-dark bruise of time.
Your face is a map of Knott County
With hard ridges of flesh, the wrinkled creek beds,
The traces and forks carved like wagon tracks on stone;
And there is Troublesome's valley struck violently
By a barlow's blade, and the anti-cline of all waters
This side of the Kentucky River.
Your teeth are dark-stained apples on an ancient tree
And your eyes the trout pools between the narrow hills;
Your hands are glacial drifts of stone
Cradled on a mountain, rock-ribbed and firm,
On the Appalachian range from Maine to Alabama.