by David-Matthew Barnes

She barreled into our lives
like a wayward wind we didn’t
realize we were missing. Soft
spoken she wasn’t. All howdy
and hey y’all. Her twang seemed
out of place in the shadows
and suburbs of San Diego in my
not-so-sheltered life in Santee,

California. I wanted Dixie to take me
far, far away from fifth grade amateur
talent shows, the mundane, reruns
of Charlie’s Angels. She was
pure country in her cowgirl hat,
fringe vest, ruffled skirt, boots
to match. My mother wasn’t excited
by the idea of babysitting Dixie’s

daughters with their Kool-Aid smiles
and TV dinner diets. They hated
their mother and her honky tonk
gigs, her roadside attractions, her
talk of a singing career. But I knew
about the spotlight love. We shared
the need for applause, the adoration
only an audience can give. The night

Dixie told us she was heading out
to Nashville and come hell or high
water, she was going to be better
than Tammy Wynette, I secretly
packed a suitcase, hoping for
an invitation that never came. Instead,
I was treated to a living room encore,
while I hid my tears, vowing one day:

my lonely heartache would become a song.

[Check out David’s back porch wisdom]