Appalachian Women’s Voices 9 30 170 4

Appalachian Women’s Voices 9 30 170 4


Hi I’m Anna Harris Parker and I’m from
Augusta, Georgia. Grandmother’s Allegory. I used to thank God for giving me a
second chance. Now I realize Coach was just the second man to give a second
look. Some years ago, I received his letter. He
remarried, developed diabetes, lost his pitching arm. We were married for five
years. when coach got restless, he said Georgia red clay didn’t take the place
of Virginia’s mountains, which gave birth to river rocks, smooth, tumbled, they never
crossed their lovers borders and he wasn’t meant to either, which is why he
left me a single undershirt on the line. Thank you. My name is Tina Parker. I grew up in
Bristol, Virginia I now live in Berea, Kentucky. Patient number 2075 Settling In. She looks like anybody’s grandmother- white hair, bobbed
and held back to one side with a bobby pin, her prim ivory dress with lace
collar repurposed from her stillborn baby’s bonnet. Evenings, the patients
flock to her room. They bring broken toys, doll heads dangling. They seek her advice.
They want her to fix it. On women, their bodies. One uterus fussed another
complained. I shush them with cotton tampons saturated in glycerin. One uterus
sang a right pretty tune, another bickered with her tubes. One clamped down on my fingers, another sputtered blood in my face. I
cured them all with a daily salt douche. One tilted and tried to hide. Another
shed its skin each time I went in some had long been empty. Most were full, full
of jewels, full of pins. One held the watch and chain I lost, back in 1910. I am not that tall. Hi I’m Natalie Cypolt and I live in Masontown, West Virginia. Ticks. “Would anybody miss you?” Man hollered out his truck window. The white pickup was sitting by the little bridge
idling, probably waiting for one of the beasts hauling equipment to the well
site. Hazel walked Esther and Dim, her aging
basset hounds, this way nearly every day. There has always been little traffic on
the unlined road but since they’d started drilling the natural gas well,
there’d been more and more strange trucks, some with beds so long they
couldn’t easily make it around the turns. So they had made new dirt roads to cut the turns short. It was ugly and no one cared about doing it in a way
that wouldn’t leave such permanent scars. At first, Hazel wasn’t sure what she’d
heard. By reflex she turned her head and looked at him.
She was just beyond the truck window and on the other side of the road,
but she could clearly see his face, skinny and stubbled, sunglasses that
reflected the light. He looked like nobody. “Well,” he said again, not quite as
loud since he’d gotten her attention. He was staring a hole in her and she felt
naked in her gym shorts and T-shirt. Would they? There was another man in the
truck too and she could see him laughing and shaking his head. She’d never felt
unsure walking alone. She’d never felt like a vulnerable single woman but maybe
she should have. Most of these oil and gas guys had come in from Texas or
Oklahoma. They weren’t the boys she’d known all
her life. These men were different and new and they weren’t from here. They came
and went; no one knew their name.
She’d heard the men laughing and the first one turned and said something to
the other loud enough that she was also supposed to hear,
but over the deep bark of her hounds, she only heard pieces. She wanted to go back
to her little house with the creek wrists whispering out back,
the cozy dark rooms, everything that was hers. She went to lock the doors, put
the dogs on the bed, and curl up until Sam came. It was Monday night so he’d be
there around 6:00, bumping his pickup truck into her driveway. He’d stay with
her for an hour maybe two before heading back to his place in Crystal Holler. The
road had a bend and once she was around it, Hazel knew that the men in the truck
couldn’t see her anymore. She was then able to get off the road and into the
thick roadside brush. She went back into the trees just enough that she thought
she might not be seen. She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting there before
she heard the deep low rumble of a truck approaching. At first, she was afraid that
it was the men, but then realized the noise was too deep and too big. Not the
men but one of the giant tractor-trailer trucks bumping and squeaking up the road.
The trucks had been going by the house for about a month
hauling giant dozers and beams and other evil looking equipment. It was all
mysterious and foreign too big to make sense of. The trucks took up nearly the
entire road and if a car were to meet them, the car would have to go up into
somebody’s yard or back up slowly until they got to a wide spot or a driveway to
dart into. Just two weeks before, a sophomore at the high school had been
killed when one of the trucks crossed over the center line out on the main
road and easily crushed her little Ford Focus. The lumbering giant came into view.
The cab was wait with Commodore Oil-and-Gas LLC on the side and the
trailer was so long that it seemed it would never pass. It was hauling one of
those wide metal boxes like a trailer that they probably used for some sort of
storage. She’d known even before she saw the truck that it was full because when
they weren’t hauling a load they flew. They’d ran over the neighbor’s dog and
then someone else’s chickens that like to peck out in the middle of the road.
No one let their kids ride bikes anymore. Most people kept them in the house,
afraid of what might happen if they turn their heads for just a minute and the
kid got too close when one of those trucks came barreling through. These were
the things they now knew. This is how their lives had changed. When Sam came,
hazel was sitting on the top porch step, a glass of iced tea sweating next to her.
Both dogs trotted to the gate when they heard his truck stop and waited for him
to come in and rub their bellies. “Hey,” he said, and she raised her chin and
greeting. He looked tired, his jeans and work shirt dirty, his skin brown from sun.
He dropped down on the step next to her, the dogs pushing around him. “Hey,” he said again, and reached for her, his rough hand along her jaw into her hair, pulling her
face towards him for a kiss. His lips were dry and hot. She felt a saw rising
up in her throat. “You okay?” Sam asked, that worry wrinkle forming between his eyes. “I’m okay,” Hazel said. Sam’s hand was still
in her hair holding on to the back of her neck. “You okay? Are you mad about
something?” “Just a long day,” she said. His fingers were in her hair massaging her
scalp, and she willed it to feel nice, like love. Sam leaned forward again to
kiss her than stopped, that worry crease forming. “What?” she asked. “I feel something here,” he said, his fingers had stopped moving in her hair and seemed to be
holding fast to one spot. “Let me look.” Hazel turned so that the back of her
head was toward Sam. He could feel him part she could feel him parting her hair,
moving it around, and searching for the things his fingers had felt. “There it is,”
he said. “Hold still, you got a tick in there.” Hazel felt the panic rising in her chest. She wanted to scream to tell Sam to both
get it out and not to touch it. It must have fallen into her hair
earlier when she was hiding in the woods. “Oh God,” she managed. She thought she could fell it now, that nasty little bastard under her skin inside her, eating her
blood for its dinner. “He ain’t there too far, I think I can get him with my fingers.”
She felt the edges of Sam’s fingernails against her scalp. Then he gave a hard
yank. “Ouch!”She screamed, then finally pulled herself away. She jumped
up and turned to see Sam holding the tiny, tiny little tick between his index
finger and thumb. He’d taken a few strands of her hair with
the tick and Hazel could see those dangling around his hand. “I think I got
him all,” he said, staring closely at the black dot. “You shouldn’t have done that,
you’re never supposed to do that!” Hazel screamed, and hit him on the arm.
Sam looked at her, confused and then squashed the tick against the porch
banister with his thumb, smearing a little just to make sure it was dead.
There was just a tiny bit of blood but it was bright red against the white
paint. “I’m sorry this turned out to be a bust,” Hazel said, standing again on the edge of the porch an hour or so later telling
Sam goodbye. “I wasted it.” “Bullshit,” Sam said. “I wanted to see you, and I saw you. Hell, I even got to de-tick you.” The dog started barking and barreled off the
porch towards the gate just as the big truck, now empty, came thumping up the
road After it came the white truck. Sam and Hazel both watched it come and when
it got in front of the house that nearly stopped. The man in the passenger seat
wearing mirrored sunglasses had his arm out the window and raised his hand to
speak. Sam raised his too but his eyes were narrowed. And he watched the men as they watched Hazel’s house. When they got beyond Sam’s truck, they accelerated, and
soon all that was left was the dust from their tires. “Damn shame,” Sam said. Hazel’s head still tingled where the tick had been and she put her finger there. There
was a little bump which would probably turn into a scab. “They’ll be gone pretty
soon,” Hazel said, “and all that would be left is the mess. Thank you. I’m Anna Steven Schmucker
from Bridgeport, West Virginia. Cercis canadensis Red Bud. Arboretum specimen
frozen in this hundred day old snow we are too far north, you and I. Your arms
have stretched dangerously thin, groping toward a sun that will not warm. I
want to cover you with my coat, console you in your
solitude. They have made of you a subject, planted wrong in shade too deep beside a
creek called a river in this land of no hills. We must find a way home. When the wind from the South blows moist and sweet, when your buds are swollen and tender. At
night I will come for you. I will spade your ground, gently pull you forth,
swaddle your roots in warm, wet cloth. We will leave in darkness, the North Star at our backs, and trace the scent of spring to its source. There
I will plant you on a hill of white dogwood and of Red Bud already blooming,
and every shade of green growing and our roots will reach down into the rich
black veins running deep into this earth. Consider the lilies and the epigraph that
this is. Find something that speaks to you, listen to it, learn from it.
Bonnie Thurston. Past the midpoint of Lent, good intentions fallen onto rocky
ground, my breath clouds the ice-cold window. I want the fecundity of warm earth. These clenched hands pried open light to
pierce this darkness. Outside, wind whips the tall grass. The red pine’s branches
lift and sway. On its plaited bark, sap has hardened into transparent beads. Last
summer’s leaves dry and curled, rattle on the lower branches of an oak. I pick up
what remains of an acorn- cap, cup, full. Inside a perfect circle of brown and I
without sight its seed the absence that speaks. Perhaps by now it has left
transformed into muscle bone the blood of a liquid idea or maybe it lies hidden
a yard away where by instinct, or luck, a squirrel will unearth it after a
snowfall yet to come. Or, it will not be found, but will lie dormant, forgotten,
until the day it bursts forth, insistent, green, and holy. Okay now switching gears rather
drastically. Here is Buck Moon Thunder Moon. Before mothers handed us
stapled stacks of Dear Abby columns about sex, before zit cream,
Kotex, and bras, before garter belts nylons and heels, delirious with
anticipation, we plunged into scout camp at Torch Lake. Kayaking, canoeing,
stretching both strings taut, relays, three-legged races, and snakebite first
aid. Coyotes yipped in the star-streaked nights as we raced down the woods trail,
down to the clearing in its glowing fire heart. Four tribes of pubescent girls,
we pounded out the rhythm. “A woony-coony cha a woony! A woony-coony cha a woony!”
Sweaty hands, beating thighs, blood sister packs made and sealed.
We sat cross-legged in a circle. Our chant fast, faster. The campfire sparks,
scorching the leaves overhead. “A woony- coony cha a woony!” We swayed like an
undulating snake. At school, Curtis showed me his weenie. I’d had nothing to show
him, not yet. “A woony-coony cha a woony! A woony coony cha a woony!” By week’s end, sleep-deprived, we
had become creatures, not ourselves. Had there been no adult century, we girls
would have stripped, pretended we were Colts bucking, kicking up our shiny
hooves, devouring the long green grass, using
muscles we didn’t know we had. I am Shurel Ligal. I grew up in a holler
in central West Virginia and have lived in Parkersburg, West Virginia for over 30
years. Let’s not go into details. The Crucifix of August. We are deep in the
humid days of summer where a scrap of shade is as rare as the Holy Grail. Our
dogs and cats curl beneath porches on bare dark earth and even the grasses
curl in upon themselves. Each morning hungers for a hint of wind. Afternoons
hold us so close no one speaks, afraid their words might hang for days around
their mouths. Night offers only darkness, no relief. Like a two millennium old
prayer we can’t forget, we of- let me start that over. Like a two millennium
old pledge we can’t forget, we offer prayers for redemption, salvation, some
new breath to quench the ache for respite, while still we’re held in the
long and languid heat. It could have been a Wednesday. Memories we carry in back
pockets like old wallets, worn yet familiar. Remembrances call us as our
mothers did on summer evenings. The screams of past events we swallow daily
and cannot digest. Sometimes we share so you may know exactly who we are.
The winter of ’69 is one brief pane that shot across my back so sharp. It could
have been a Wednesday or a Tuesday, I don’t know the date, but I know it drove
me down where I lay long afraid to move. I did not
call my sister nor my aunt one floor below, but stayed and said myself till
evening forced me into the wife and mother role. What I do know is two months
later, a new doctor in a new town said, “Fetus dead,” yet sent me home with scarlet
pills and in a thunderhead of clouds, I took those pills till I, myself, ran red with death. Sister
in Grief. Spring yellow coldfoot blossoms greet us as we run the fence,
line twist and patch gaping spaces, then hike to water the pinned in pig rescued
from time amid horses and deer, a life of rooting the wild. We drive the fields,
count white faced cattle, look up for circling buzzards, check utters and
spindly legs. In muddy boots we sloshed from pasture to pasture, pond to pond,
puddle to puddle, our minds thick with death. What can be more important today
than counting cows and calves? It is expected of us to go on with these daily
chores to wake as if we as if we were the same as yesterday, as if your
husband’s death has not seared us raw. So we rescue and name other creatures, move
out from empty rooms where loud memories of the long married haunt our
days. Grief hangs around our nights and morning chokes us at mealtimes, leaves us empty as the stomach’s of newborn animals.
Thank you. My name is Odana, I’ve been living in
Culloden, West Virginia for 27 years off and on. Green is a natural color. it’s
warm for February but the water is still cold like it should be. I’m wearing short
sleeves and ink on my fingers. There was another chemical spill on
Thursday and they called some men at the Capitol about it on Saturday. the newspapers told us Sunday night while we were sleeping. The water
bubbles up over my naked toes and I think of all the tiny bones that I’ve
broken. I shuffle further out into the creek and yearn for the years when you
could drink this water for I know that tonight in the shower the clean water
will burn the places where this stream has touched. I pretend for now that this place does not care about me. I pretend
for now that these three crosses perched on every other hilltop lead me home.
Instead, they lead me around in circles, always back to a highway marker in that
awful green color that is supposed to blend with the nature around us.
Perhaps someday when coal was king again and the trees are artificial like
Christmas, they will be. I call my mom when I get home and I tell her not to drink the water again, yeah mama, again. Well I feel like I’m swaying on my feet.
This has just been amazing. If you’re counting, I make number 24. I have three
pieces but I’m actually just gonna do a couple because I know we’re all tired. I do
want to mention many of us have chat books for sale on the second table over, so
if you’re interested in buying our work that helps us out. If you enjoyed someone
please support them if you’re able with your dollars. We also have our own chat
book that’s for sale as I mentioned earlier. This first piece is called
Daughter-in-Law Mine Once Removed. There is a wall on the US–Mexico border made of
surplus steel and wire mesh. A thousand miles worth, backyards and alleyways
and Chula Vista as far as Timacua. Children stand on our side poke, tiny
fingers into those ?hoodlean? holes, for the slightest brush of their
grandmothers fingers pressed inward on the Tijuana side. I’ve read about it
in Time Magazine and cried. The iciness of your Colorado standoff, richer does
anything man-made. Surely you remember this rich Ohio soil, ripe to
burst and pastures blush. A woman can make her way here. I don’t care about the
details- who was right, who should have got what, it didn’t- I don’t care that you’ll never love again and hills to pay. I care that my
body has gone to wrinkle and the world to concrete inconvenience. Tractors
traded for fracking walkers, though this parcel will never fall long if I can
steady a shotgun. With nothing but a wall to cling to, what’s balled up can only
bounce back. Without old ways, the granddaughter might never make out why
her body aches, ?proceed and drown?. It came to me a rifling national GO,
Dissing this telescope, highly recommended for its ability to reflect, along with the moon and stars, help her
please, to look south of Lake Erie by way of the Appalachian, that east by
southeast tell her that’s her grandmother, top of Big’s Knob, waving a
white hanky. And just to continue in the vein of Sharon Burke that’s pertinent to
what’s happening today. This one’s called My Friend Lorraine
Asked Will I go with her to a Drag Show. Lorraine- heart of a star, rainwater rusted,
walks with joyous steps and strange rhythms from the mountains. She once made a cutout
of a cloud and that cloud’s sister sent to me in a postcard. I pray most nights standing, worried about the wind when it pressed hard from the south, walk
under my friend to gather up the chickens. That night the bourbon tasted like kool-aid. We drink five each. Together, a twisted
mirror of a common event ourselves. During the finale we hacked up our skirts
danced like Dutches. A rainbow of zinnias swayed the sidewalk, moonlit as
Loretta and I’ve tendered homeward, holding fast to one another, spouting newfound revelations of womanness. Noting that serious dancin’ just might be
there cure to years of heavy liftin’. ?Shimmy minds meow as seacase? splits,
exposes backbone, but also honorability. “Shitfire,” Lorraine says. “We should all
throw ourselves like seed.” Thank you so much for having us today everyone, this is marvelous.We’ll be sticking around if you want to talk to anybody of us, please would love that and I don’t know if they’re still still goodies left but let’s eat’em up
before we go. Thank you.

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