Thursday Feb 29

Hope-GillLaura Laura Hope-Gill is founding director of Asheville Wordfest and the first poet laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway. She has published two books: The Soul Tree: Poems and Photographs of the Southern Appalachians with photographer John Fletcher, Jr. and Look Up Asheville: An Architectural Journey with photographer Michael Oppenheim.  She is the marketing director at Grateful Steps Publishing House and Bookshop and lives in Asheville with her daughter.  Her poems, essays and creative nonfiction appear in Cincinnati Review, Parabola, North Carolina Literary Review and others. Visit her website:

The Book of the Boyfriends Who Called Me Insular but I Was Deaf
It gave you a word to land on in those years
I was undiagnosed and merely moved around the house
unaware that you were talking from another room.
It was a problem with the relationship, I was the root
and you cut me out.  You never talk, You never
listen, and so it was: I grew into silence the same way
Daphne grew into a tree. Beauty was still there,
just unnoticeable if you were looking to see a woman.
I did not mean to plant myself in a foreign wood away from you.
I did not intend to leave you so alone. With hearing aids now,
you would think I’d emerge, shake off this barkened madness,
release my leaves, speak, damn you, you’d think I’d learn to speak.
What they do not tell you about in the audiologist’s office
is the way that deafness does grow inward, replacing a world
of sound with one of a quiet so deep it contains everything
you ever thought to say, emanates a kind of a soul’s sonar
to illuminate, echolocate things words don’t exist for
and only harm, chase out and terrify.
The Book of the People of the Sea
When they first saw the sea they watched
their faces vanish in the waves
as one after the other
they fell upon the sand at their feet.
They entered it anonymously,
as one always enters love, leaving behind the restlessness of names.
They bowed down to it.
At first, they had to
learn how to stay standing when
the blue arc approached. They learned not to run
and how not to be pushed down.
They learned how not to breathe a moment and keep walking.
They learned that some waves would
simply lift them, raise them the way a star might life their eyes
to gaze into its light. The sea was
playful with them, as space.
The myths the sea gave them to tell
were many, and they listened and
remembered what they could in poems.
They wrote the poems with water.
They drank them whenever they needed.
They became the people of the ocean
and when the time came they scattered.
And the sea broke open among them,
and each one carried a part, their share
of the story. And the memory was heavy
in them,
the ones who carried the sea,
and when they did the things that others
do, it was always with a sense of greatness.
And others saw these things and felt awe.
But it was only the sea speaking through
them, these ones who descended from the waves.
It was only the roar of the ocean
they spoke when they opened their small mouths.
The Book of How Everything Was Gentle
The openness of things was not
a myth. The evenings unfolded
in the garden, with the petals.
Where there was water, there was life.
Where I found you there, it was quiet.
Your presence elevated me as wind lifts.
The secrets of the place were many.
As if it were a body,
we explored it, settled in the meadows.
Together we evanesced. If ever
your heart wanted, the amber and the
peregrine answered. Folded beyond
beholding, every move was within a whole,
every breath a breath into something else.
The earth suffused the self
thoroughly enough.