Every year for one summer week we fled city concrete,

our skinned and scarred bony legs climbing steel bus steps.

Our mother shaking her head at the zoomorphic use

of a racing dog she believed was grossly falsified, sighing:

Why they would put a fast dog on this slow-ass bus is beyond me!

The driver collecting tickets always shook his head back,

not for the misleading hound, but the long night ahead —

a sundown that commenced crying fights, the lap feast

of cold fried chicken and bread slices, head balancing acts

of sleep upright. All to get down home, a foothill

in the blue ridge mountains where we stepped off

into a morning and the arms of our grandmother

who’d say: My you’ve grown. How was the ride? Who’d boast

she rode the mule-pulled tractor to the schoolhouse in snow.

— Crystal Simone Smith

(From the book All the Songs We Sing, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective published by the Blair/Carolina Wren Press.)

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