Girl with Guitar, 1947

by Michael Beadle

all freckles and pigtails
and that breezy grin

like you know
the next joke coming

you perch on the loghouse porch
propped in a flatback chair

patches on your britches
bare feet dirt-pocked

from chasing cousins
yard to stream

now your hands rest
on the neck

of a Martin guitar
you straddle between your legs

after supper
Mama sings

of a hard love that ends
with a hanging

trees slow their sway
the starry pond shivers

you wait for Daddy
to fiddle an old favorite

you’ll soon know by heart

Michael Beadle writes, performs, and teaches poetry as a touring writer-in-residence. His poems have been featured in various journals and anthologies. He is also the co-author of Haywood County: Portrait of a Mountain Community, which won the 2010 President’s Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians.

About Girl With Guitar — For years, I was haunted by a W. Eugene Smith photo, which features a girl sitting with her guitar and wearing a spunky, mischievous smile I couldn’t forget. Smith took the photo while covering a folk festival in Asheville, and included the image in a 1947 essay called “Folk Singers.”