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Mountain Momma: An Appalachian Poem

Mountain Momma: An Appalachian Poem


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.


Mountain Mama

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.