loyal fans

In the beginning-
no, we missed the beginning.
We had ridden so far, over state lines, and
stopped at a diner for sandwiches.
While my husband dawdled over blueberry pie, I knelt in the
ladies restroom and milked my full mothering breasts.

We missed the beginning.
We had driven to the end of the road, curving around a
lush, green swamp, down a dirt road, until we found ourselves in line
with all of the others who were
late.

Finally, so far from home and from
the baby, we parked and walked to the
amphitheatre, sounds of banjo, guitar, and voices growing
louder, more clear.
The band before the band, but
one we liked, and the crowd
different. Not like its southern counterpart we knew.
Too reserved, too clean, too hard, too tight.
Made cold and brittle by New England
ice. They smelled of clove cigarettes and beer.

We missed the beginning and didn’t quite feel
we belonged. Because we aren’t from around
here. Because we had left the baby to come. Because
his flannel shirt was nearly as old as me. And
I wore the skirt that never really works here in
town, associates me with ‘those cult people,’ but really
twirls and hangs so soft on my thighs.

Between sets we spread our small quilt on dewy ground and
sat, waiting, watching. Evening crept so slowly over the
June horizon, the wind cool, and
with no customers’ coffee to keep it from,
no toddler fingers to grab at it, I
let down my hair.

We missed the beginning, but we were there when the lights went
low and the stage was readied and the band appeared.
Sloughing off the worries that came of a mortgage and mothering,
I sang along. I whooped. I hollered.
I danced.
And though my skirt, my hair, my breasts
hung heavy and insistent, it only made it that much
more marvelous when I did rise up and remember the girl who
discovered these songs just before she discovered the man
who had brought her to see them as
her boyfriend, her betrothed, her husband, and now the father of
their child.

We missed the beginning and worried about rain and
we weren’t like the rest of them.
But the rain never fell, and
we didn’t need the rest of them.

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