Stacey Lynn Brown

When I was four, we drove to Nashville

When I was four, we drove to Nashville,

Grand Ole Opry-bound, and stopped

the night at a broken down motel

in Tennessee—shag walls,

mossy carpet, dank concrete—

and I remember standing in

the doorway as evening fell,

a busful of believers rattling their way

to the pool for a makeshift

baptism, the Amens and Hear us, Lords

ricocheting through the courtyard

as underwater lights glowed

the pool algae green.


They would come to him, the big

preacher man, and he’d lay

a palm across their foreheads, brace

them at the small of their backs.

They’d release themselves to him:

teethsucking the air before

falling back into salvation,

held under unstruggling and

splashing up anew all gasping

grace and sanctified glory

hallelujah til my mother shut the door

and made me watch tv.


My parents don’t recall it,

but that’s the way

memory works in the South—

the truth is always lying

in some field somewhere between

the bones of the fallen

and the weapons they reach for.