A Switchback is a Road with Hairpin Turns

"...hill stations invariably owed their origin
and development to colonialism." ~ Robert R. Reed

There being no access at the time,
soldiers snaked up the mountain 
chain with pickaxes, envisioning 
a crown of cathedrals, quonset
huts of corrugated metal;
schoolhouses built of stone
and pine, where their long-
skirted women would undertake 
the duty of teaching poor 
native children the difference 
between primer and bible, naked 
and clothed. On the grounds 
of the country club, a sanatorium 
once stood; there, after bouts 
of coughing blood, convalescents 
found a routine of tea, camphor, 
and bed rest favorable; as well 
as the cold shimmer of evenings 
in those hills, streaked like peacock 
fans. Now, the place which used to be
my home all but creaks from within
the hollows of over-tunneled gold 
and copper mines. Moss can only patch
what hasn't been gutted by concrete
and steel. The lake named after
the famous architect spits out mud
and boat rides; on its oily surface, 
a fleet of rotting swans with rusted
oars. Inside those hills, perhaps
there's still a hurt of cypress
wind, the recitation of vesper
bells, a love you thought 
would outstay the dark braids 
of distance. I took what little 
I could, when I could. I'll measure
it out, try to make it last longer
than the trace of a vanished scent. 

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