Appalachia

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This is an old poem. Years ago, I lived in a small house in Tennessee. The heat of the summer was intense. There was no air conditioning and my ex and I would go walking at night through the center of this small town. Often it was too hot to sleep, so we’d just walk the streets of this small town. I think of that time fondly, especially on hot summer nights. The noisy crickets coming in through the windows, as we tried to sleep on an air mattress on the floor. We spent hours on that air mattress, talking and learning about each other. Other nights, we’d walk the streets when it would get too hot. We had just moved there and knew very few people. In many ways, it was entering a different landscape and culture of getting to know a very small town, that probably was not certain they wanted to know the new people in town. I have always loved to take walks in the middle of the night when things are quiet and sleeping. It’s an extremely peaceful experience. This poem brings me back to what it was like those first few nights in that town when we were not only learning the town but really learning each other. I remember walking around, timidly, slowly getting to know the town and people. It was a strange contrast, in some ways, because the town, in many ways, felt old and tired. It was a small town that kids would dream of ‘getting out of,’ and here we were two young adults, falling in love there. When the nights are humid, I often think about that town and those nights on the air mattress or walking through the town, falling in love. The relationship was so new, it felt untouchable. Around us, there was a lot of people who felt like they had lost their dreams, and it was a strange contrast to be falling in love in such a strange place, yet I think it made it more magical in a sense. In retrospect, writing the poem, I imagine that they saw us and thought, ‘you’re oblivious to reality,’ which we were at the time. It was a time in a relationship when we were not significantly taxed by the minutia of every day life. As we warm into the heart of summer, it’s challenging not to look back at that time. Even knowing that we were not meant to be together, it’s still was a magical experience in my life.

Appalachia

There was no breeze in the backyard.
The moon was forever searching for crickets.
The sun earlier in the day stunted the plants.
Your eyes were as large as history,
nostalgiac and celebratory. I was busy
trying to be the specific eye of God,
dictating a moment,
something that no one would want,
into a lacked vocabulary of thankfulness.

My thoughts were
your monster, your miracle.
Your thoughts were my
all being, my serpent.

It meant nothing then.
Babies of constant abandonment cried
and the barefoot Appalachian boys in torn shirts
dreamed of cars and adult film stars.

There were no idols in those hours,
not in blood, not in marriage, not in images
or magic. There were
overripe women trapped
in lives they no longer wanted to stay in,
and sacraments that meant misery,
and you and I in absolute lucidity,
lying flat and one dimensional, full of lust
and curiousity beneath a full moon.

I had yet to become your husband
and was satiated on being your weekend lover.
You were so far from being washed in
dinner plates and detail.
The writer and his muse living
in the season of lips and fingers,
attached to midnight soul-bearing pillow talk
that wreaked of young love.

They could smell it down the street,
the scent of fading, but they kept
their dinners in the oven,
put the baby to sleep,
and drank themselves into dreams
they imagined were much like our lives-

innocent and undefined
symmetry before the idea of shape.

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