For the Fire Hydrant on Valley View Drive in Dunlap, Tennessee
Mother said when she bought the house in 1970, that the fire hydrant would be an asset, positioned at the corner of our new front yard under the street lamp. It will reduce our insurance. Protect us in case of fire. At ten, all that was irrelevant, but that it marked the spot where a light flooded a space where neighborhood playmates gathered for dramatic summer performances established my importance. The fire plug served as home base for games like, Red Light, Green Light late into summer evenings. Porch fixtures with single light bulb luminescence cast eerie shadows, while my yard was lit for center stage. Even in the fall, friends tossed jackets on the hydrant until front doors opened and parents called us to give up play.
Now fifty plus years since the purchase of the lot, that metal monument surpasses its intended use. My eighty year old mother uses it as a marker. She only drives to church but sometimes the world plays hide and seek. Her house begins to look like all the rest of the brick ranch domiciles. It’s the yellow and green fire hydrant that assures her, she’s touched home.
Natalie Kimbell grew up in Sequatchie County, Tennessee. She has spent forty years teaching English and theater arts there. She is a mother, grandmother and lover of all things that sparkle. Her work appears in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Mildred Haun Review, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Artemis, and 23 Tales: Appalachian Ghost Stories, Legends and Other Mysteries. Her first poetry chapbook, On Phillips Creek, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2024.