Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“New Frontier, 1970”

Kory Wells often performs her poetry with her daughter Kelsey, an old-time musician, in an act that’s been called “hillbilly cool” and “moving, fun, spiritual, and sassy.” Decent Pan of Cornbread, the first album by the Murfreesboro duo, is out this fall. Kory is author of the poetry chapbook Heaven Was the Moon (March Street Press). Her novel-in-progress was a William Faulkner competition finalist, and her “standout” nonfiction has been praised by Ladies’ Home Journal. Her work appears in Christian Science Monitor, Ruminate, Rock & Sling, Deep South Magazine, Now & Then, New Southerner, Literary Mama, and other publications.

New Frontier, 1970

Mama drives a Fastback.
Sixty-five metallic green Mustang,
searing black vinyl. I fidget in back,
straddle the hump, turtle-scrunch
my head to shoulders
and strain to see out the front
a glimpse of Daddy
riding in the big truck

up ahead. Traffic stops for us,
we take so much of the road,
like a circus train snaking west
through a curve on the two-lane
that laces Monteagle mountain,
all sixty feet of our house on wheels
a long package of white metal,
doors taped and windows papered

for the hundred mile journey.
I’m excited, Mama says to Mamaw
in the bucket seat beside her.
It’s the nicest little college town.
Courthouse in the middle of the square,
prettiest cupola on top.
Mamaw clucks, cocks her head toward mine.
Don’t it sound good? she says.

The trailer’s not even level
on its lot at the edge of town when
two skinny sisters ask me to play.
They’re in nothing but their panties,
want me to shed my own clothes.
Might as well ask me to pick up horse dung
from the pasture beside us. They taunt
and tease and I don’t like Tennessee,

but I turn and there’s the house
that came here with me,
shaky on stacked blocks,
but a steady place, a home.