Trampled Flowers

After a two mile hike through Cumberland hard woods
we approached a sandstone rockhouse
nestled into a cliff’s foot. Inside, the sandy floor
was barricaded by a splintered, three-slat wooden fence—
Bryan tells me some locals used to camp and party
back here. I drift off, imagining the scene:
An old, burgundy Ford ranger covered in clay, 
backs into the rock amphitheater, PA system in the bed.
Rosanne Cash and Conway Twitty reverberate
off damp sandstone across the Cumberland Plateau,
a clandestine concert known only to the revelers.
With the moon above, they drink, fight, screw, pass out—
all on top of an unassuming white flower.
Unknowingly, they almost wiped out an entire
occurrence of the endangered Cumberland Sandwort.

On the ride back in Bryan pulls the truck over.
An ephemeral stream cuts through the loamy red road,
the water falling over a ledge into a stream shadowed
by rhododendron. Behind them, beech, oak, buckeye,
hickory, and hemlock. Bryan yells to look over the edge.
I walk a few steps and look down: trash bags, beer cans,
a rusted refrigerator, something else I can’t make out,
probably just an old washing machine.

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