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"Nebraska State Fair 1950" from Wikimedia Commons

Issue 103, Winter 2018

North Carolina State Fair

It rises from dust, rakes in the populace, 
feeds them fried Twinkies, fried trees if they could 
put them on a stick and powder them in sugar. 
Bodies bunch up: the perfumed, the balmy, 
the whole way to watch the potter at his wheel, 
the carver and his knife, the knee-high rope 
around an old America. Somewhere amongst 
the sound of shrill children holding stuffed 
SpongeBobs, the banjo in arthritic hands infuses 
the air with song. People eat their corn and clap, 
make way to the cow barn, the high-swinging 
swings, the plastic horses that travel in unrelenting 
circles. The clogger stumps the bowed stage 
with free-style shuffles, his flailing limbs 
like broken lumber. The fiddler leans into 
his shrugged shoulder. My body is too still, I think, 
wishing there was a skirt I could put on, bells to tie 
to my shoes. I watch the judges hold scores for jigs 
that were done on porches with no reeling film, 
no expecting eyes, but mountains and mountains 
and more tunes than they had legs for. 

C. L. White reads “North Carolina State Fair.”

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C.L. White

Native to the rural Piedmont of North Carolina, C. L. White currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she teaches high school. Her poetry appears in Best New Poets, Mid-American Review, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere.