Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

In Vegas, Another Kind of Trophy

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

In Vegas, Another Kind of Trophy

Article excerpt

"Between the dark and the daylight, when the night is beginning to lower, comes a pause in the day's occupations that is known as the Children's Hour." That's the opening line of a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I memorized it in fifth grade (the whole poem, not just the first line) and recited it in a school contest in front of God and all his angels and a cafeteria full of parents that included my mother. Much to my surprise, I won a trophy.

I liked winning that trophy. It was big and shiny and engraved with the words: "First Place for Reading and Recitation." I put it on a shelf in my bedroom to remind me that (1) I might be poor; and (2) I might be homely; but (3) at least I was first place in something.

I entered the contest because my teacher made me do it. But I learned that poem because I loved it. I loved the sound of it, the rhythm, the way its words rolled off my tongue and burrowed into my chest.

Most of all, I loved it because it reminded me of evenings I spent with my grandmother on her farm in the mountains.

After supper, when the dishes were done (she washed, I dried, we hummed together), she'd say, "Let's go sit on the porch and watch the evening come up."

I wish you could've seen it.

Evening came up quickly in those mountains, filling the valleys with a darkness as thick and black as the coffee that boiled on the wood stove. The dimming of the day took my breath away.

The colors of the sunset on the western sky. The dance of the swallows swooping over the barn. The flickering of the lightning bugs flashing their lanterns in the hydrangeas by the road.

I watched all those things, committing them to memory, fearing I might not have them forever. But what kept me on that porch, quiet and content at my grandmother's side for as long as she chose to stay there, was something that has taken me years to understand. …

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