Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


Book Excerpt: The Girl Singer


Sycamores jut above a daybreak wet
with steam. The groundhogs are making

coffee. The heron flies above the tree
line, drumstick legs stretched rigid,

wing-flap on the upbeat like a crooked
song wounding the sky.

A family of house finches makes a dust bath
in the gravels at the end of my driveway.

They strum and pluck every shimmering
day while the worm entombs, while the bud

weeps on the vine. I’ve been broadcasting
seed in memoriam: my mother loved the killdeer,

her mother despised the bluejay,
the melancholy of its cries like a wretched

old love song hummed over and again.


Copyright © 2021 by Marianne Worthington, reprinted from The Girl Singer with permission from the University Press of Kentucky. All rights reserved. Marianne Worthington is a poet, editor, and cofounder of Still: The Journal. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, CALYX, Grist, and other outlets. She is coeditor, with Silas House, of Piano in a Sycamore: Writing Lessons from the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop. She grew up in Knoxville and currently lives in southeastern Kentucky.

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