My uncle, Lynn Turner, died in 2014. He was my late mother’s youngest brother. When he died, my mother’s youngest sister, my Aunt Donna, asked me to write a poem in Lynn’s memory that she could read at his funeral. Unfortunately, I missed the date. It took me eight years to finish the poem “Still, They Sing.” I’m delighted to say the piece is included in Volume 25: Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel — Appalachia (Un)Masked. But incredibly gratifying is knowing that Donna will be reading the poem in my stead at the launch of Volume 25 on November 20, 2022.
Both of my parents were mountain people. My mother was born in Hazard, Kentucky, and my father in Asheville, North Carolina. My father’s people never left Asheville. But our family did. We landed in Mobile, Alabama, for a couple of years before moving to Jackson, Mississippi, where my sister and I grew up. During our time in Mobile, my mother’s family also moved there. And they stayed. Below is a picture of my uncle Lynn seated. I’m the pale, big-eared boy standing beside him. The photo is dated June 1958. Lynn was twelve; I was eight. My aunt Donna, not pictured, was nine.
Those two years in Mobile with my aunts and uncles, Mom had three brothers and two sisters, were glorious.
After my family moved to Jackson, my grandparents, aunts, and uncles would visit us from time to time. Donna spent some summers with us, wild kids playing in the woods. We had nicknames, favorite games, and special foods. Donna taught me how to make cinnamon toast. I still love it.
My grandparents have passed away, as have my parents. My mother, two uncles, and one aunt have also left us. But what abides are blessed memories of summers and laughter growing up with family. Today, Donna still lives in Mobile. My sister lives in Georgia, and I live in Beersheba, Israel.
All the best,