Saturday, 26 June 2021

'You’re Lookin’ at Country' by April Bradley

Long Hollow Pike stretches out far and away, curving into the dream of night until it vanishes around our high school across the street, reminding us of its homecoming-float mythologies. Lucy and I collect bricks from the demolished ruin of our old elementary school under an August moonbow. We hear the playground creek ripple and then snow falls on a pile of coal waiting to be fed into the furnace. Beth wears red and white gingham on the first day of first grade. Sweet little dogs trot along her red barrettes, and it’s all I can do not to touch them. The hallway outside the classroom slopes downwards so when the tornado alarms blare, we try not to somersault into one another like balls of 7-year-old children rolling away in the wind. Jason and I find a pumpkin on the playground by the creek and carve it up with his pocketknife on the floor of our 3rdgrade classroom. Honeysuckle grows around the hickory trees by the swings and I think about drinking the nectar while we wait for our paddling. We sing This Land Is Your Land in music class and songs from Coal Miner’s Daughter in the auditorium. We sell Girl Scout Cookies and take ballet lessons and gymnastics and tap. We wear jeans under dresses, play soccer, twirl batons, and mix-up Barbies with Star Wars action figures. Lucy and I and head back towards Nashville, drive though the gentle switch-backs of the Cumberland River basin, and I whisper-sing to myself, my arms winging through the air as first dates and suicides/rapes and car races/proms and overdoses, and the sweetnesses and disasters keep pace with us, and I’m signing that refrain over and over as if Loretta Lynn wrote a song just for me.

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