Tennessee Moon (Pie)
The last remnants of our sky is fluttered with snow. It’s real snow, the kind that piles in our hair like the petals of a flowering Dogwood. The two of us find shelter in the MoonPie store and browse through all their mountain woman goods. We pick up different flavored candles and drug store candy, their glass jars flickering like fireflies against the twinkling lights. I tell you about the time my dad left out moon pies for Halloween and how to this day no trick or treaters will come near our house. You laugh and curl your hair behind your ear — maybe it’s too soon — too early to enjoy a cool moon pie and dollop of ice cream.
This last minute voyage is the remnants of our spring break. We’re meant to be in Pigeon Forge hoping for glimpses of Dolly Parton and maybe a bear or two, but with snow like this we can hardly stand to leave it. As we browse and pack our carts with sweet mooncakes, I say a silent prayer that my car can withstand a belated spring snow.
Chattanooga has seen its fair shares of winter bliss, they call them flurries or light showers but it’s coagulated more than any phenomena we’ve ever seen. Further South, back home our snow is ice, thin and murky, where snow angels are puddles and snowmen play as lumps of sludge and pine straw.
As we step back out onto the cobblestone street, our hands fiddle for the clear plastic. Our traveling tennis shoes don’t hold well against the ice that’s formed on the sidewalk, so we stay close enough to catch the other in case someone slips. Our chilled hands threaten to crack in this heavy moonlight, all for the taste of these Tennessee s’mores. I think this was worth it, you say shoving the wrapper into the pocket of your coat, I’ve never felt anything quite like this.
We take a bite, mine the classic — yours the banana cream. The biscuit crumbles on the edge of our lips and the marshmallow fluff sticking to our teeth — I smile — unrelenting at its sweetness.
Lonely Hearts Club
There on the kitchen table it sits — this off white envelope stained with the dirt from across state lines. The red, white, and blue stamp has brushed against the bottom of the mailman’s bag too many times, its tapered edges are peeled ever so slightly from the journey here. Behind you — your six children are playing in the backyard — their laughter and squeals oblivious to the budding kiss that lines this letter’s seal.
He’s a widower too — he’s told you in smudged black ink — the scrawl drains like a river coming off each vowel. It wasn’t long ago, when the bittered chill of December hit and your sister gave you this club’s information. A child needs a father, she said, a woman needs love, she said — lonely hearts will find a way to each other — she insisted. He’s got three kids just across the river. Like his wife, your husband has gone home to heaven. That’s what you’ve told the kids — that’s what you try to believe when you lie awake at night — your evening prayers sent up like one of your letters.
You sit down at the kitchen table and lift the envelope, ripping it open with your homegrown fingers. In his letters he writes to you of a horn shaped moon, its yella’ light outshines all the lightnin’ bugs that dance over the Mississippi River. You laugh when he tells you they’re kin — yours and mine — our little lightnin’ bugs are connected you see.
You can feel it in your bones, when you write back, this gentle love is almost too early to be certain and yet it is all the same. One day soon he’ll show up with those kids in tow and settle his hands on his hips. From your front porch he’ll ask you a question that words in letters can’t convey — and somehow — the answer is simple.
You’ll change into the little brown dress you’ve been saving for the Easter picnic. From the yard all the kids will watch as you climb into the passenger side of his car. The whole way there you gently clutch his hand between the coos of Hank Williams and gentle wafts of springtime rain. This little church is like a branch of home, the love that grows here is strong. You’ll take his hand in yours and stand beneath a whittled cross that’s draped in stems of dried lavender. It’s there you marry him — it’s there the kids will grow — it’s there this love will spool like one of the myths you’ve stitched in your quilts.
By now this story has dwindled into squash casserole recipes and your youngest’s blended family history. When you’ve gone home to heaven too your great granddaughter will be the first to pick up her needle and stitch along those very same lines. Lonely hearts tend to find a way, she’ll say, and think of your love with each pull of her heartstrings.
The sound of summer rain and cerulean is birthed in the mouths of the cicadas that sing outside my bedroom window. One of them is howling — albeit off key — and I have no choice but to think she has been barred from the neighborhood chorus. Her wings are spooned under the midnight silk of Orion’s Belt, its sapphire shell flickers beneath the streetlamp that glows from the front yard. I wonder what song she is singing, what lover has spurned her, or what sister she has lost through their limited life cycle. I think of the mother arachnid that has spooled a home in the azalea bush. I wonder if her eight prowling eyes have caught sight of such delectable prey, a growling hunger that’s festered beneath a Strawberry Moon. Maybe that is why I hear this series of wails that echo down our cul de sac. Perhaps this insect has turned from mortal to exoskeletal, an apparition searching for a love that was wrapped in an impenetrable web. Now as I lay here, I too mourn a love that was meant to last beyond these clouded June nights.
Taylor Wyna is a writer from Birmingham, Alabama whose work has been featured in Cypress Press, Aura Literary Arts Review, and Reckon Women. She has work forthcoming in the Amethyst Review and Emerge Literary Journal. Taylor serves as the Founder and EIC of Camellias, a Southern Regional magazine dedicated to the modern Southern woman. Say ‘hi’ on Twitter and Instagram @TayyWyna