I keep trying to see my face in the bottles.
That’s why I don’t put up a fuss about going to the store
(who doesn’t leave the house anymore).
That, and I like the way the chords mount in my head
as I run
rising up, up, up
as the rhythm of my feet pounding the path
gives shape to it all
the cock’s comb and
black-eyed Susans --
blur by and
my heart beats faster
the beat and colors mix together
until there’s only one pile of sound, one chord, rising in an
the way fish suck at the surface when I spit
from the bridge
like Daddy taught me
while Mama tried not to smile.
I send the chords
all the way up until Daddy can hear them.
I get this, my church, on Saturdays --
that’s when Mama needs the flour for the biscuits.
They grow up in mounds, too, like her belly did
right before Ada was born.
Saturday nights, after dinner, we use the leftover biscuits
to shine our patent leather shoes for church.
It’s the lard that makes them shine.
Mama says we have to look nice so that
people will know we’re getting along just fine.
Church is the one place mama will still go.
She figures it’s safe there, with the eyes of Jesus watching over us and all.
Mr. Haley’s Adam’s apple bobs up
while he talks.
He shuffles to the back to get the flour.
There's bubble gum in buckets,
and rock candy, piled up in barrels
like fish in a market
and blue bottles in seed rows, perfectly spaced.
I always thought glass had to be clear, like honey jars,
but these bottles are deep and dark
like the places in the ocean where Miss Turner says the fish
go blind because the sun doesn’t reach that far down.
Mama says my eyes are blue like Daddy’s.
Blue and brimming with trouble --
full to the top with something nothing good can come of.
Full like the floured biscuits that give my shoes
Yesterday’s butter shine.
Chords rise from Mrs. Haley’s careful organ fingers.
I squint to see my face
In my Saturday-shined shoes.
Amity Taylor. Austin, Texas.
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.