Viersen, Germany - May 9. 2020: Close up of isolated vinyl record album  with logo lettering from Tamla Motwon soul music label (selective focus on letter M left)

The Names of Love

How music and blackberries nourish and knit us together.

What Johnny Left

When Johnny left, he took our money.
He took our cows, he took the records
that were worth something.
He left the green Ford truck
and its payment book,
the empty coal bin, his mama’s quilts,
which we huddled under
and hung in doorways to keep cold out
the best we could. He left the stereo,
thank God, with its microphone,
and he left the Christmas records,
and best of all, he left the Supremes,
maybe because Mom went to school
with Diana Ross’ sister,
maybe because I loved them,
maybe because he didn't,
but whatever reason,
I still had them. Come See About Me,
Baby Love, all the hits,
belting them out on that microphone, all my
emotions, Mom’s emotions, too. All
the frustrations, the fears, the resentment,
the not knowing how to make ends meet, but
the power of it being the two of us together,
no fighting, uniting, no harsh words, no hatred,
no praying at night to Stop
in the Name of Love.

Berry Sisters

Remember those summers
when we were just kids,
picking blackberries
in the backyard at
Mamaw and Papaw’s,
purple juice flowing from
our fingers, from the corners
of our upturned grins,
as we stuffed our cheeks
fuller and fuller
of blackberry flesh, drunk
from the joy, the imagined
intoxication of blackberry wine,
then held them to each other’s wrists,
gently pushing against
pulse points until they bled
freely down arms, then
smooshing those juices,
swearing allegiance
deeper than family,
darker than our pasts,
more brilliant than our futures,
stained in the moment,
not merely cousins
but blood sisters, pricked
by the thorns of the fruit.

Author Profile

Chrissie Anderson Peters is a native of southwestern Virginia, now residing in Bristol, Tennessee, with her husband and four feline children. Her passions are anything from the ’80s and traveling. She is the author of three self-published books, and her work has been published in Still: The Journal, Women of Appalachia Project, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and other regional publications, as well as being included in 23 Tales: Appalachian Ghost Stories, Legends, and Other Mysteries.

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