Pop Goes the World

Bartlett, John Russell. "Tucson, Sonora." 1854. Courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collections.

We drove to Tucson in the cuspy light
of a morning moon—
caraway seed, eyelash,
lemon zest over mountains we knew
were there but couldn’t see.

My daughter sang
all through both hours of the drive.
She played her favorite songs
and belted out the belty ones,
and as we neared the city,
the sun showed us which pocket
of the sky it had been tucked
inside: it said, Light starts here,
the deep southeast, the idea
of Mexico. In G.

She sang. The one about the farmhouse
and the girlfriend who broke it off too soon,
the one about the anorectic
whose father was an asshole,
and one about a founding father
cheating on his wife.

She’s made of both the lyrics and the chords,
who is she? Where are her friends?
She holds music in her
throat the way my friend Martina laughs,
the love of laughter flooding in
along with thought, the observation
and the joy of making it
equally potent, and here in the car,
the joy of just how sad the song knows
she is sometimes, often actually.

Sally Ball is the author of two books, WRECK ME and ANNUS MIRABILIS, both from Barrow Street. She is an associate director (long distance!) of Four Way Books and an associate professor of English in the MFA program at Arizona State University.
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