Queer Appalachia By RK Fauth

Queer Appalachia

Take me to the holler.
I want to see the cows
Big Mamaw’s grave and
something about tobacco fields.

I don’t recall all you said at Barley’s, but you
introduced yourself with an anecdote
about toothbrushes made from
chewed-up willow branches and
coyotes loping along a
wooded backyard—Uncle Clark’s
and Aunt Zella’s. Big Mamaw called you
Little Tweeter and threw
pollywogs in the air.
Did you know
in academia, everyone’s talking
about queer Appalachia?
And “statistically unlikely” is your best angle.
You tug on all-purpose bootstraps
under the table, ready to dazzle

me with the story. I was baptized
on the side of   the road in a concrete basin.
Farmers dressed in diaphanous curtains dunked me
till I saw God. One time my parents
decided to be American
traveling gospel singers, ripping me
out of   a one-room schoolhouse to staple
shag carpet to the metal walls
of   the bus we lived in.
Coach, maybe, was the only gay woman
I knew, and she’s still married to
Take me to the holler.

It just so happens that night you dragged an opossum
out of the road. Not quite dead—in a poem
I wrote that its life “teetered on the cusp
of the longest, bluest hour.” I was knee-deep
in Maggie Nelson, contemporary queen of the queers.

Queen of blue
I told you. Who?

OK, take me to the Cumberland River
where the cows pose and the ghost of Big Mamaw croons.
Did you know
Judith Butler is actually very attractive?
Who is   Judith Butler? You haul a kayak
over your rippling bulk of a shoulder and
set us going down the river.

Kudzu vines dip beneath the tree line like ropes.
Southern gothic.
The river ends in a pool of long, thin men.
Their ponytails whip
out of the water and we dock. I hadn’t noticed
the weather is hot.
Even the buzzards stop and reconsider.
And the current
carries a fleet of crinkled beer cans

toward us. Did they see
you kiss me?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a real gun in my life.
How fast can I load a boat?
I ask myself while you take us out,
you rush to take us out—
to take my dumb ass out of the holler.

This poem previously appeared in POETRY.

By RK Fauth


RK Fauth’s poetry and literary nonfiction have been recognized and published by The Spring Creek Project, The Revolution (Relaunch), the Fulbright Korea Infusion, Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, and others. She recently received a Global Medieval Studies Award for Academic Excellence for the Unprecedented Project, a public poetry experiment that circulates blackout poems through the mail.

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