Tennessee Jones 2016 Lambda Literary Fellow

Tennessee Jones 2016 Lambda Literary Fellow



we're gonna keep up this religious theme when I was a kid in the backwoods in Appalachian and my grandpa was a preacher and he was like a backwoods an educated guy but he used to go into the woods to pray and there was a little like speaking a tongue ship in the church but he wouldn't really let go in the woods and he used to take me there with him so this piece I'm going to read is taking place just after this character would be she has seen him speaking in tongues in the woods when I was 10 I learned the word talisman and I thought upon the forest kneeling on his carpet of emerald Moss it came to me that he had wanted to put some of his hope into me which might not be all that different from imagining I was a circle of lights or gather stones were thicket of tall blue which trees that I became the ring of light for him and not the subject he placed within its safety perhaps explains why he did not move to protect me when I needed protection before I got too much older I would need this and not get it and this is a large part of the story I wish to tell it might be the reason I'm telling him but before this happened my grandfather said that if the entire world moved one breath of an inch that we would find ourselves in heaven and I believed him and when he said we would all be so greatly changed by this movement that we wouldn't know each other there I believe this to this knowledge one seen other did seem pre-existent as did certain stories about past generations in my family that I couldn't remember hearing and so felt I'd always known them I knew my grandmother's brother Lawrence had died and what she called the Great War three remaining brothers had died and somewhere the other from drinking too much my grandmother had had two sisters violet and Stella named four flower and star and though they had both been dead for many years I knew that she missed them because she talked about them as if they still live all the people in my family for the most part didn't talk and when they did it was in monologues that grew out of the proximity of long silences my talks of the weather and the way the Sun fell on the hills and the blooms of the marigolds her mother had planted she called the whole the house they've grown up in the old homeplace and in that phrase was a long and deep said sadness that was tempered with incredulous nests at the years have passed my grandmother had grown old and she knew it she'd lived everywhere outlived everyone in her generation of family and yet there were times when this seemed to surprise her I saw her cry and then go to start supper or to work in the fields as if nothing had happened and this made me wonder if what lay at the source of my family silence was a wellspring of grief so enormous that they could choose one to drink from it because it watered every blade of grass we walked upon and vegetable we pulled from the gardens when part salt it was of the stars in our inevitable passing and of a great blue ghost the color of lightning that had chased him through the fields when he was a young man it could have been that my grandfather's a numinous disposition was hereditary but about his parents in his youth he said nothing and so I don't know if his gift the birdsong had been passed from them were become from the birds themselves [Applause]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *