Saturday, January 23, 2010

Red Wing

This poem is written by Suzanne Gaither Jennings

Red Wing

The minute we get in the car and you are all buckled up, the first words out of your mouth are, “lets listen to Red Wing”. Red Wing is the first song on the first side of a collection of dulcimer mountain music we bought at Grandma’s store. I always think it’s funny that you became fixed on that one particular tune on that particular tape when there are so many high-tech Mickey Mouse marketers vying for your attention.

Then it hits me, the intro, the first verse moving happily into the chorus, “Oh the moon shines so bright on pretty Red Wing”. It’s a story of a lovely Indian maiden, the words spill from my mouth from a source somewhere far away. Suddenly, she is standing there before me and I am singing with her a song I have not heard since I was in grade school. I see her silvery hair, her long, thin fingers, the sag in her satin cheeks. I remember her broken soprano voice singing to me a song she heard as a girl in the Ozark mountains, “Oh the moon shines tonight on little Red Wing”. I look over at you bobbing right and left in your seat and you look almost as if you could jump down and dance an Irish jig with out ever having to be taught.

Watching you makes me wonder about the substances that run through our veins, and I can’t help but think that somewhere down the road you may develop a distaste for all of us. You may load up a car and move away to some distant city, you may leave this little town and never look back. You may vow never to do certain things you grew up watching all of us do. You may wash the Indiana dirt from your face, put on new clothes, eat exotic food and drink the sweet nectar from a thousand unfamiliar ports of call. You may fine tune your ears to appreciate the music of a cultured and refined society.

But do not be surprised, my son, if every now and then you get hungry for deep dish macaroni and cheese or fried green tomatoes or homemade chocolate pie. Don’t be alarmed when your hands have a yearning to feel the smoothness of a good piece of pine. Don’t be upset if on some sunny spring day you get the urge to plant some beans and cucumber plants. Never fear when your pale blue eyes wander happily over a path of Xenias or Marigolds. Don’t be afraid if the strain of southern gospel music or the hammering of a dulcimer catches your ear and deep inside you somewhere begins a fluttering that you never knew existed and it rises up into your throat with a pulse so strong it brings you to tears.

My sweet boy, with your Bostor blonde hair and your blue sickle eyes, you with your Hartwell sense of justice and your Gaither sense of humour. You with your slender Jennings body and your Smith reserve. You, my son, are but a cell in the connective tissue of life. Like it or not, we all dance to the tunes we know.

1 comment:

  1. I was so glad to find this in print, I heard it read years ago on a Gaither Homecoming CD that has since been long gone. Thank you for sharing it here. :)