The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A journey south

Rachael Conlin Levy

I’ve been to Tennessee and back.

I pushed my way through warm air humming with bugs to stand at a muddy creek and watch cardinals chase each other through tree branches.

I sat in the clean silence of a Shaker museum.

I ate fried pies.

And fried catfish.

And fried corn.




I traveled alone, the first time in seven years. Oh my, that sounds so long, to have seven whole years pass since I was last responsible for no one but myself. I’d planned to write on the plane and fill pages as I traveled across the country, but I was too self-conscious to open my notebook.

My thoughts fluttered about me, drifted by like perfume, sweet but elusive.

Even after I arrived, I could not pin them down.



I’ve been to Tennessee to bless my niece, for I was was her godmother and it was my job to dry her off after her baptism and rub the sign of the cross onto her forehead with my thumb. But what I will remember is how her mouth was a tiny red butterfly and that she enjoyed chewing on the Sunday palms.



I’m back now, and it feels good, not as jarring this time.

Once again, I’m pushing my way through air that is cool and green.

I’m listening to updates on science projects and replays of missed soccer games.

I’m shouldering my half of the parenting responsibility and smiling at the sigh of relief from Marcel.

In my absence, the garlic has grown and mysterious mushrooms have sprung up between the shoots of wheat where my vegetable garden should be. Everything is okay.

2 responses to “A journey south”

  1. Kyna says:

    Welcome back.

  2. Molly says:

    Thank you for visiting us and being part of Willa’s baptism. We love you!

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