Neshoba County Fair

They have bunnies in a cage, the bunnies are babies,

palm-size. I want to bury my face in the pile of them, drown

out the duck-hunting arcade, the die-with-your-head-upside-down

ride, the Mississippi drawl

that spikes through one hundred generators growling like Humvees.

There are people who come back every year. It’s a family

thing. It’s an identity thing. It’s a beer, buddies, ice

and lots of back-slapping thing. There is

a horse race down at the big track, but first there is a marching-band with chunky blonds

in skimpy outfits. There are lots of white people in boots

in the stands and all the black people stay with the horses

in the stalls. The horses are shiny because it’s hot

and they’re being showered, and maybe waxed—I think the car wash evolved from this.

I expect pink bubbles. There’s vapor rising.

I wish I could touch one but I’m afraid of the black people: I don’t understand what they say

and it makes them laugh.

There are coolers and crackling sacks of brightly-colored things that people seem to think

are food. There are goats. There are lambs.

It’s like none of these animals ever make it to adulthood

except the horses, and I’m thinking maybe it’s because the black people make sure they do.

There’s a trampoline and a harness and children doing back-flips

in the oceanic sky. With a mouth

almost full of teeth the man who runs the booth asks if I want to try it.

I recoil. I am snail, but I’m dying

to go and it’s easier than burying my face in the caged bunnies so I say yes,

ok, yes. He straps me in the harness and I start to jump. Up there

I can’t hear the Humvees, and I can’t see the cages. There’s an infinity

of fields, gold and pink, and also a straight

grey road right smack in the middle.


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