What color are the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Poetry by Pamela Anderson
Issue 46 • December 2016 • Harrisonburg

…I ask my husband as we drive
east on Route 33 toward Skyline Drive
and the Shenandoah National Park.
We debate this question
as if it were the most vital issue of the day.
          Dusty blue. Gray blue.
It is three weeks exactly since his world stopped
three times: Once in the ambulance; twice in ER.
Widow maker, a surgeon told us.
A miracle he survived, said another.
And it does seem like a miracle right now,
our car cruising comfortably at 60. John Martyn’s
Solid Air whispering through the sound system. My hand
snugged into his and resting on the console between us.
          Smoky blue. Shadow blue.
We don’t talk about the days he lost in ICU,
plumber’s auger down his throat and balloon pump
doing his heart’s work.
When I explain to friends, I demonstrate:
This is his heart, I say, making a fist
with my left hand. Over the top
I wrap my right thumb, index and middle fingers.
These are his arteries.
In the webbing between index and middle,
that’s where it happened. Where a speck
stoppered his heart like a cork in a wine bottle.
          Ocean blue. Rain cloud blue.
I don’t mention my newest nightmare:
A dog that lunged at me then snapped its jaws
around my demonstration fingers.
The way my free digits gripped its snout,
bearing down and dragging the beast toward me,
our eyes locked and terror growing.
          Steel blue. Slate blue.
We drive, and I want to keep going,
past our street and up the steep, curving highway.
Past the fear that my heart
might continue beating after his is done.

Originally an Ohio native, Pamela Anderson relocated to Harrisonburg in 2013. She is a graduate of the Northeast Ohio MFA Program and recipient of a Bisbee Fellowship.

Illustration by Paul Hostetler

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