through the hills, your shaggy terrier bounding ahead on a path,
trampling patches of pink trilliums on his way to the creek bed. You see
a patch of May Apples scraping the forest ﬂoor, the crackle of a campﬁre,
the seared edges of a marshmallow bulging from the end of a stick, its
glossy whiteness oozing over the melting chocolate as you press the
graham crackers together.
end oﬀ a blossom, holding the green stem in your teeth and breathing
in the honey. You see your great-grandmother, her long, gray hair
pinned in a bun, stooping over the quilting loom by the black wood
stove in her cabin, and you see her strolling in her garden, her brown,
crinkled hands pulling a green bean fresh from the vine and poking it
into your open mouth.
“Taps” rising clearly and mournfully over the hills, and you are homesick
and at home all at once and all over again. You feel glorious, icy lake
water hit your sunburned legs as you leap from the lifeguard stand.
You smell the musty scent of the barn, and you are tall and wild on the
back of a horse. You see your dad ﬂoating down the French Broad River
on a raft, his strong arms pulling the oars through the dark water while
lightening streaks the dark sky. You scramble together up the riverbank
and duck into a cow pasture, and you feel that quiet moment just before
the bull charges you. Gray and angry, he stomps his feet, and his nostrils
ﬂare. You turn and see your dad, stopped solidly between you and the
bull, waving you on, toward the fence at the edge of the pasture, and you
feel the earth hot beneath your feet and the sting of the rising wind as
you run to safety.
Falls, the water spraying your hair and swallowing your words. He is
eighteen, you are sixteen, and neither of you knows you’ll end up
She teaches composition at both Blue Ridge Community College and Brevard College, where she serves as the nonfiction editor for Pisgah Review.
More recently this month, on Nov. 18, 2010, Jennifer McGaha was the featured reader at Poets and Writers Reading Poems and Stories at John C. Campbell Folk School.
Samples of her work and a complete list of her publications are available at her website: jennifer-mcgaha.wordpress.com.