I crest Kill Devil Hill. A solo Carolina maple
umbrellas above— a canopy of red
bleeds into the sky’s grayness. I inhale
the sweetness of its wounds, those blood-

blooms spill the first scent of spring
into chilled February air. Looking out, the hill mimes
a cliff; its slope drops off at my feet. The Catawba River
flows in waves below on a million unseen

legs, navigates horse-stomped meadows
like a silver millipede, advances toward forested
foothills in the middle distance: one
step forward and I’d topple into its current.

Fields are split by the pegged corpses of trees
that cannot halt this winding watercourse.
It trespasses through every plot. Here,
no one sees me mirror the maple

tree: my branchlets burst with flowers
on their ends; petals helicopter lithe as samaras;
limb perched rooks savor my trauma—
cruor coated beaks rise from my wounds.

© Shawn Nacona Stroud

*This poem previously appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of the Loch Raven Review.


♦Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk NC

The real Kill Devil Hill is large sand dune that sits in the Kill Devil Hills. Located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it was from this hill that the Wright brothers made their first flight.