I haven't published much poetry on The Revivalist, and there's no excuse for that. I'm a sucker for rhythm and imagery. In fact, I like poems a lot. When I see a good one, though, it has usually been published elsewhere, and it's some work to hunt down a poet and request reprint rights. We're talking pure laziness on my part, I know.
Lucky for me, Sarah Loudin Thomas made things easy. She ran the poem "Mountain Mama" on her own website where an email address was just a few pixels away. Even I could manage to copy, paste, and send a message, asking to share this piece with y'all.
I was thrilled when Sarah said, "Yes," because this poem is about as Appalachian as they come. It's all about fragile beauty and precarious lives. It's about grim reality getting entangled with false hope. It's about the unique losses that mountain people face every single day.
After reading it, please leave a comment telling Sarah what you think.
There is truth in the trailer park
and honesty in the car on blocks.
Starvin’ Marvin and “as seen on TV”
live cheek by jowl with the likes
of handmade quilts and apple butter;
old-time music and the oral tradition.
Some folks say it isn’t True,
isn’t the way things used to be.
But lose a grandfather to the mines,
an uncle to the war, your mother
to a cancer that gnaws at her soul—
lose a child for no reason you can see.
Then you’ll find the fragile beauty
in the never-ending yard sale.
You’ll learn to love the tourists
who buy corncob pipes, coonskin caps,
and lumps of coal carved like bears.
When the giant timber companies
run the local sawmill out of money
and Aunt Eunice can’t remember your name—
when your best friend moves to California
and minimum wage is doing alright, man.
Then you’ll find the potent wisdom
in workers’ compensation, food stamps
and tonight’s lotto number—
dear God let me win.
A one in a billion chance is better
than watching the land your ancestors
cleared wash away . . . no wish away
on the promises of strip mines
and a future you can’t afford to wait.
At night, the lights from Wal-Mart glow
like the promise of a better tomorrow.
In addition to poems, Sarah Loudin Thomas writes books. In fact, she is seeking publication of her first novel. Originally from West Virginia, she writes pieces that reflect her love for Christ first and her Appalachian heritage second. She has previously published poetry and articles in magazines including Appalachian Heritage, The Pisgah Review and Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. You can learn more about Sarah on her website Sarah Anne Loudin Thomas: Everyday miracles happen every day.