Your dad pushed it early: always Emmylou
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in the minivan, Reba from the backyard
tapedeck, Shania Twain sulking the house
in leopard-print leggings and a velvet cowboy hat.
Downstairs, he kept Ronstadt records nestled
in a milkcrate like sheep packed together to keep
from freezing, all Mom's Dolly Parton somewhere
in there, too—the detritus of divorce. It sounded
too much the same to you then, stringed twang
played carefully, backed by scripted rhythms—
stories in the music, instead of declarations.
And on days you couldn't be convinced to listen
even out of obligation, you'd still get it through
the vents, strains of Nashville crowding the space
you'd built from punk rock, Rollins and Fugazi
spastic readers of your rattled high school mind.
But time has its way of reminding you: there
isn't much you can altogether avoid. Now, when
you visit, you go through Dad's CDs, find yourself
burning more than you ever would have thought.
That music has set itself in your bones, burrowed
quickly and without notice. Even Dad's voice
drifting up now from the basement is a dobro,
its timbre just as warped. It blends right in
with LeAnn's "Blue," but only to ask, Will you turn that
up a little, son? I love this one. And even though
you do, you know he can still hear you above him,
every bone in your feet tapping against the ceiling.
You know that if he could, he'd stand on his head
to tap back, to share a little more of the music.