Samuel Prestridge: “New Highway Promises Development for Local Communities”

“New Highway Promises Development for Local Communities”
                                     The Starkville Daily News
The new highway skirts struggling towns obscured 
by second-growth—black jack saplings, pin oak, 
scrub pine decked with hand-struck signs for still-born 
cafes, yard sales, deer skinners, promises 
of God’s wrath, purchases non-refundable.
I wonder who could live in these small towns. 
I tell the trees, Not me.  I still look, though,  
still try to see how, within their limits, 
mysteries keep them seething.  Having failed 
with farming, having wheeled to fail at retail, 
their faith’s in resurrection.  New highways.  
In buyers who’ll slab jack foundations, 
true frames, gingerbread all the worn storefronts.  
Paint the whole into a groggy, pastel wet dream 
with awnings, stratocumulus, lighting subdued
to shade by day, illuminate by night.  
The latest iterations in gutter 
technology, sewers gussied up.  
Rains falling like money will hurry away, 
down to the channelized river. Its banks 
will blossom with summer homes.  Angelic 
water skiers’ wash will lap the cut bank, 
will rinse mulish roots, will swamp the hand-struck 
signs I’d have placed there:  “No trespassing.”  
“Free rooster.”  “Chickens, fresh brown eggs for sale.” 

About the Author: Samuel Prestridge, a post-aspirational man, lives and works in Athens, Georgia. He sometimes plays acoustic blues and jazz in local bars under an assumed name. He has been published in Literary ImaginationThe Arkansas ReviewSouthern Humanities ReviewAs It Ought to Be, Better Than Starbucks, Autumn Skies, among others.

Image Credit: Marion Post Walcott “Signs advertising liquor stores are seen frequently along all Kentucky highways. South of Bardstown” (1940) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

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