in 57, 58


in ’57, ’58
i was 3 or 4
and would stand on the bench seat
between mama and daddy
sometimes daddy’d
get me to sing
the Carling Black Label jingle
(Hey Mabel!)
but mostly it was mama who sang
in that soft, burred alto
so common to southern women
musical and comforting
and dead on tune—
she’d sing the one about
how much is that doggy in the window
and my little heart
would almost break from wanting
to cuddle that unseen pup
to tell him he was safe—
or she sang
the tennessee waltz
how her best friend stole her sweetheart—
i’d want to put my arms around her, too
but i was only 3 or 4
standing on a bench seat in a moving car
not the one to talk about being safe
instead, she finished her song
way too soon
pulled me to her side and hugged me
touched my hair
she turned the radio up
her eyes gleamed as she looked out the window
at the world dancing ’round our chevrolet—
a girl can dream, she whispered
and i completely misunderstood

—Don Whittington


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