|Vol. V, No. 4, Spring 1992|
by Kathryn Buckstaff
The lake stretches like mylar over the debris of a time...
fallen fences, rotting bams,
firepits in caves,
speartips sinking in the mud of drowned pastures.
Of a summer night before the dam was built,
the valley twinkled from kerosene lamps on porches,
and Celtic sounds from fiddle bows recalled
birth and death,
White River goggle-eye.
Nowdays Duckcarts plow the lake, hauling
comfed Iowans up blacktop cowpaths to the Bonanza.
A guide explains through exhaust fumes the ten-million-dollar theater where engineers spent days
trying to match the blue of an Ozarks' July sky.
Three miles from the lake, Las Vegas lights draw
blue-haired Maureen and double-knit Earl
to extra-salty popcom in the smokey lobby
where a t-shirt says: "I slept with Willie."
Lights go low, Earl stops chewing, and a spotlight shines
on Merle Haggard's face.
Old voices take them back
and settle around their shoulders like a quilt.
They hear Jimmie Rodgers yodeling the Blue Hobo's Meditation. Jim Garland croons offstage.
The Smoky Mountain Boys unite their isolation
in railroad cars,
in the tent of Little Egypt,
on the streets in 1932,
in a union rally,
in a barroom brawl,
On the bank of a long-gone river.
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