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Poems take us places we haven’t been before, and introduce us to new people, and sometimes they play our favorite songs on the radio while we are getting there. Jane Hicks’s poems carry us across time and into the deep woods of memory, and after reading them, we may feel that we ourselves have eaten banana pudding at communion on Pyburn Creek. Hick’s poetry first appeared in Now & Then magazine in 1987, and she went on to publish more than a dozen poems in the magazine in the years that followed. Hicks is a treasured ETSU alum, and her work is an indispensable thread in the quilt of Appalachian literature. We are delighted to share these new poems from her so early in the life of Appalachian Places. Learn more about Hicks and her work here:


Walking on nerve-numbed toes

separates flesh from the earth

that comforts and teaches me on wooded paths,

once muddy farm roads, bordered with rusted wire

embedded into oak and poplar along the fence line,

trunks assaulted and scavenged by woodpeckers,

pileated nest holes in trees grown tall toward the sun

from deep ravines, eye level from my vantage

on this bare ridgetop.


I sit on a patch of green, trace tree roots beneath,

taste moss and acorns with my fingers, pull back

tufts loosened by deer hoof, find shale,

watch obsidian insects scurry to cover.

Summer flutters above.

When I last walked this path,

limbs clacked and wind nipped.


I lost time like a dream. Months gone while poison dripped,

excised the thing that ate me, a gall like the oak bears,

a disrupted flow. On my moss bed, shoes flung aside,

feet and fingers touch draw from the earth

all flows through, nourishes, heals.

Jane Hicks, a native of East Tennessee, is an award-winning poet, teacher, and quilter. Her poetry appears in journals and numerous anthologies, including Southern Poetry Anthology: Contemporary Appalachia and Southern Poetry Anthology: Tennessee. Her first book, Blood and Bone Remember, was nominated for and won several awards. The University Press of Kentucky published her latest poetry book, Driving with the Dead, in the fall of 2014. It won the Appalachian Writers Association Poetry Book of the Year Award for books published in 2014.


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