I said honey, you don't want to know because it was real bad times then.
Alright. Well, my daddy, your great-grandpa, he was one of nine kids, one of five that made it to old age. Well, he had built a two-room house. You great-grandma'd papered it in newsprint and playbill photographs of movie stars.
When I was a girl, I remember my living in Foxlanta back when the old post office was my schoolhouse and the general store still got mail. When I think about those times, I think of brown beans and one solitary hog leg big as Christmas. I see my mommy making lye soap, her back stooped in the mud over a kettle outside, and I remember my daddy made staves—cut down acres of timberland for whiskey barrel planks and —
In those times, you know, people died easier. In our graveyards, infants line in rows. The little brothers and stillborn sisters, their headstones cluster around their mothers. It’s hard to explain to you.
You know, a long time ago, I'm sure there was more trees then. Less roads. Birds and bugs all over the hills. Now, everything’s concrete—. Feels like it anyway.
Your mama gave birth to you in a big concrete hospital. You were premature, one month too soon. Don't tell your mama, but I cried in the truck first time I saw you, so slight with those tubes in your nose--a baby —in a plastic bubble. You were so small I could fit you in my hand.
Anyway, baby. Come out to the garden. Look at the beans growing. This one is as tall as you.
I can teach you how to plant a seed, if you listen. Come here, now.
Shaun Turner. Richmond, Kentucky.
Call and Response is a photo-literary exploration devoted to the relationship between photographs and words. Using photographs from the Looking at Appalachia project, writers are encouraged to respond narratively to a single image in 1,000 words or less. We hope to use this platform to expand our community and encourage collaboration between photographers and writers. Learn more about how to submit here.