Mountain Momma: An Appalachian Poem

Photo provided by kiwanee2001 on Flickr.

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.

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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.

If you’ve written strong Appalachian poems or short stories that you’d like to see published on The Revivalist, send them over. It’ll save me the hassle of rooting around the web (note the aforementioned laziness), and if they’re a fit, it’ll give you a showcase for your work. Just click the “contact me” link off to the right and paste the body of your work into the message.

 

11 Comments

  • kiki

    Heartbreaking truth and beauty all wrapped up in a few lines.
    Thank you Sarah Anne

  • Sarah Thomas

    kiki–thanks, I’m so glad you found truth and beauty in my poem.

  • Nancy Loudin (Mom)

    My pride is bursting at the seams! Love this poem for expressing so well what I have seen for nearly 70 years all around me (mixed in with the beauty of WV that I love.)

  • Heather Day Gilbert

    Sarah, so cool to see your writing over here! I’ve been following The Revivalist for awhile. So glad we kindred WV spirits stick together! And you know I wish all the best on your book!

  • Sarah Thomas

    Hey Mom and Heather! It’s good to run into two of my favorite West Virginians in a new place.

  • Wally Campbell

    Sarah,
    Thanks for the poem…..really enjoyed it.

  • Helena Waldmann

    My mom’s family is from Flat Top, WV, & your poem strikes a chord in my heart about life there. Amazing poem. I love it!

  • Sarah Thomas

    Wally and Helena- Glad you enjoyed the poem–I love sharing it.

  • AshleyG

    One of the things I love most about WV is the raw honesty of the people and their ability to find beauty in things that most people can’t see. I never understood how rare this was until I moved away. This poem captures both of those things beautifully. Keep writing.

  • little bro mike

    loved the poem so many miles between us but so few difrinces.

  • Pat Maruca

    Sarah, you know how much I love your work. This makes me think of French Creek, Adrian, Frametown, where your Grandad grew up, hard lives all, but full of beauty and happiness of a sort many can’t fathom. My favorites are the very short poem about the wash on a line telling a life story and of course, Mountain Man. This one is so beautiful. Love you – Aunt Pat

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