My husband made a good Interim. We called five churches in six years home. Vanderbilt
was why we came, though I stayed away from the campus. He was the aspiring academic now.
Harvard: The Vanderbilt of the North proclaimed the bookstore T-shirts.
At St. David’s, a woman told me we were Yankees and would always be Yankees,
no matter how long we stayed. Our children would be Yankees, too. Even if they were
born in Nashville. If the cat had kittens in the oven, we would not call them biscuits,
would we? I thought of my Slovak American mother, her Yankee magazine,
her Ethan Allen furniture. I thought the remark a joke. Like the ice storm, FEMA
disaster 1010. Two weeks of snow days without any snow, the power lines glassy
ropes. It’s in the hills. Our power was restored in less than a day. Other
neighborhoods took longer. East Nashville, North Nashville. At the Capitol Building,
the bust of General Nathan Bedford Forrest looked down on all who entered.
The Lost Cause of the Confederacy cast a long shadow. Years after we left, the
surrounding streets were renamed: Rosa Parks Boulevard in 2007, Dr. Martin Luther
King Boulevard in 2018, Rep. John Lewis Way in 2020. They moved the bust of the
Klan leader to the Tennessee State Museum in 2021. The vote was five to two.
Paula Reed Nancarrows Comments
In an essay in Plume, Charles Simic called prose poetry “the monster child of two incompatible impulses, one of which wants to tell a story and another, equally powerful, which wants to freeze an image, or a bit of language, for our scrutiny.” All three of my prose poems are more or less monsters in this way, with varying degrees of emphasis on story, image, and language. This particular poem weaves personal and historical narrative to address themes of belonging and exclusion, stasis and change.