Eating Appalachia 1975

He presses down the pedal as he hastens through the holler,
Screeching around swerving curves before they
Take the Valiant like they took the old Fury
and the houses on Job Street, on Love Street, and Food Street.
Daddy yaks Valiant and Vietnam. Mama answers so and so.

Little Brother and I assemble at attention, edgy and rigid,
Sweat-sliding across backseat vinyl to the zigzag curves.
Daddy talks of needing – guns, knives, cars, clothes, boats, bars –
And he’d have them too, Ey God, if it wasn’t for Vietnam and . . .
Mama bellows so and so and so.

My belly growls through the backseat like hungry vomit.
Curves keep coming. Out the window, I glimpse the jagged
Ledges of rock walls, peer up and catch the billow-clouded sky.
On Brother’s side, trailers bombard old mountain boroughs in aluminum
Shanty towns, and holler churches sermonize the Bible on the front signs.

Jesus Loves the Little Children. I look at Brother and ponder.

He and I played mud monsters in the rain
Before the sun cavalry came and dried our lives.
He and I scuttled furtively like Natives in the forest,
Without splitting a twig, to sneak and smoke rabbit backer.
He and I sat silent outside, stunned and solid as a Jesus prayer,
Waiting for the Lord to quell fist bombs and uttered guns.

He looks at me, wide blue eyes, and I hear his stomach rumble.
I grin at him, grab the window roller, motion for his own.
We roll, frantic as Mama’s factory bobbin,
Poke our noggins out the windows, open wide our mouths,
Laugh, and eat Appalachia.

 

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