Hannah’s Reflections on Ezell

by Hannah From

When my grandfather came to this land he saw potential.
He saw the tall trees and fertile soil
The rolling hills
And clear waters flowing

He built a cabin
And cut that lumber, sending it down stream
To be masts of the ships sailin’ for some far off land


The trees were cut
And that deep, dark soil ran down the mountain side
Leaving behind just red clay
It’ll choke the life out of anything you try and plant

Nothing grows there
Just red clay
Like a scar on the hillside
But he made do
Sent his children to work good jobs
He knew they’d not have to worry as hard as he had

And he smiled
He knew he’d done good

When my father came to this land he saw potential.
Where his father hadn’t seen
Those black diamonds below the surface
“Black diamonds… black diamonds”

He built himself a house
Stripped that land for all he could
Washing and wishing
Poisoning up our spring water
Can’t use the well anymore

The land was ripped up and moved
And put back and re-molded
Not the same though
Like a scar on the hillside

But he made do
Sent his children to good schools
He knew they’d not have to work as hard as he had

And he smiled
He knew he’d done good

When I came to this land I saw potential.
Oh what beautiful potential I see.
It’ll never be the same again
And left behinds

But the birds still sing,
The mourning dove still weeps
The crow caws, the Chick-a-Dees chatter
Their notes all the way down
Like a musical patchwork across the hillside

It takes time to mend what has been broken.
By wishing,
Soil can’t become fertile
Trees can’t grow tall
Water doesn’t run clear
But I’ll make do

So when the time comes I’ll send my own children out into the world
They’ll know what it means to tend
And care
And hope and wish
And I’ll smile
And know

I’ve done good.

Note about the poem

The “Black diamonds… black diamonds” part is from a the poem “Black Diamonds” by Crystal Good. She’s a fantastic West Virginia poet.

The poem isn’t a direct reflection of the class but it was something I thought of when I was taking the class and watching the play. I wrote snippets of it in my journal and I finally pieced it all together at the end. I wrote it to be spoken because that’s how I write. I hope it comes across well when being read.

The poem is loosely based off the story to my mother’s side of the family. Ezell and them have a similar fate, unfortunately their homestead and roots were lost forever. No one came back to tend and listen to the land.


I come from a family of storytellers and land lovers. I was taught from an early age the importance of story and the impact it can have on the listener and the teller alike.

This class and this experience re-affirmed what I hope to do when I graduate. I want to help people through the arts, do a bit of community story activism myself. I also want to be about to help people tell their own stories because when people start talking to one another they often find we’re a lot more similar than we’d originally perceived.

For the convo production I played the fox and the full Ezell performance I was a musician sprinkled in the woods.

Important and memorable moments in this class:

When we (the class) first started to bond to one another. For me this was probably somewhere between the movement workshop and the class where we found our dogs. We all got to be a little silly together and I think this made all of us band together which made putting on the convo and production much easier.

When I was in the woods playing music. (I loved playing music in general but this moment stood out to me in particular.) I think it was the second or third show and I was in the woods standing among the trees. I think I was playing just a little melody and looking at the light and how it was coming through the trees. It was quite beautiful. I was looking around when I saw the shadow of a bird gliding across the ground. I looked up and saw a hawk riding the breeze. It was a serene moment and I think it helped set the mood for the rest of my woodland playing.

When we got to share stories together. Check-ins in class were always wonderful. I loved hearing about all of the hard and the humorous moments of everyone’s days. We talked about music and movies as well as deep diving and problems we didn’t think we’d get out of.

Being able to finally see and experience the full Ezell experience made me cry a little. There were parts of Ezell that I saw in myself and my loved ones. It wasn’t like looking in a mirror—more like a decently polished spoon. When people share their stories those who listen can find things that ring true for them and I think that is the most important thing about this work. Well, that and the awareness y’all bring to issues like the environment and place.

Overall, this class has be a wonderful experience. I’ve loved meeting all of the new people and working alongside them. I almost didn’t take this class but I’m definitely glad I did!

Article Written by Hannah From