Raised in the shadows of Black Mountain
a claggy holler of Harlan County,
she grew up fierce on a diet of coal dust,
the tough love of pull yourself up by the britches,
and the mantra of never feel sorry for yourself
even when all things seem precarious.
At 80, she’s razor-sharp and headstrong —
mows the lawn,
cleans the church,
cares for the sick,
and feeds empty bellies.
Even today when the neurologists told her
that her eyesight was forever gone,
she swallowed one breath of sorrow,
and then that grit
came bubbling up from deep inside.
And with a, “Well, I guess that’s that,”
she started making plans
to not be a burden on anyone else.