Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Punch - 310

Sarah Van Name

A woman sings in the renovated church. Her hands are folded in front of her, and her skinny chest is the bearer of a voice that made its premier just after the Great Depression – low, rich, and mournful.

The people she sings of are the orphaned children of fast-running rivers and soil, grown up in the tall grass having buried their love like dead birds in shoeboxes deep underground. They bear children who are themselves orphaned, cut open and educated by the greening expanse of the tornado sky. They understand the feel of both goose feathers and shattered beer bottles.

The day her song was written went something like this:

Edward woke up shirtless and sweating, his pillow crushed underneath him. The air was white and wavered with heat like a woman about to faint. He spent the morning playing marbles with the other boys in a cleared circle of dirt.

At noon, his mother was too busy to make him lunch and he too lazy, so when Anna Mae Richardson walked by, there was already something twisting in his stomach. She smoothed her dress and sat down on the porch steps.

She’d been watching for a while, chin resting in her hands, when Billy Tull got up from the circle and sat down next to her. She placed her head on his shoulder with the same careful precision with which one might move a chess piece for checkmate.

The evening drew on, and when the dinner bell rang Anna Mae kissed Billy on the cheek and walked away down the road. Billy turned to the group with a smile on his face loud as the bell itself, and Edward punched him.

And in this way, on this day, Edward learned about love, broken teeth, and the power of human hunger. This was the song I heard the woman sing.

The Cave - Mumford and Sons

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