The Jackson County Regional Livestock Market in Ripley, W.Va. – Nathan Thomas
We spent an hour and a half driving on backroads
cracked more than your teenage cousins’ phone screen
with small tuft of hair-like grass peeking out, passing decrepit
barns with dissolving Mail Pouch Tobacco logos, and
packs of wild dogs surveying ditches for their next meal,
searching for the Jackson County Regional Livestock Market.
With the last little bit of cell service, Phil Ochs came
on my “folkin around” Spotify playlist, and he sang of
driving through the hills of West Virginia.
Upon our arrival, I imagined the
Grundy County Auction – an auctioneer with a booming
bass voice that puts Sha Na Na’s Bowzer to shame,
a smell that feels like the greatest hits collection of
all roadside truck stop bathrooms in a fifty-mile radius,
deteriorating wooden bleachers bought from the nearby
high school after a fruitful fundraising campaign, blue
banners hanging from the rafters celebrating cattle
bought and sold there who moved on to West Virginia
State Fair glory in Fairlea. And John Michael Montgomery
would be there. And that even though I do not have the means
of caring for a horse, that I just might buy a horse – or at least a goat.
That I just might find the love of my life.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the lack of light,
and a row of cows crying out into the cold cold night.
It was midnight.
It was never going to be.