Thank God for talkers.
I grew up at the knee of front-porch talkers, of people who could tell a story and make you believe you had been there, right there, in the path of the bullet or the train, in the warm arms of a new mother, in the teeth of a mean dog. The men, sometimes dog drunk, sometimes flush with religion but always alight with the power of words, could make you feel the breath of the arching blade as it hissssssed past their face on the beer joint floor, could make you taste the blood in your mouth from the fist that had smashed into their own, could make you hear the loose change in the deputy’s pocket as he ran, reaching for them, just steps behind.
The women in my world, aunts and cousins and grandmas and a girlfriend or two, could telegraph straight to your brain the beauty of babies you never touched, songs you never heard, loves you never felt. They could make you cry about a funeral you never saw, make you mourn for a man you had never even met. They could make you give a damn about the world around you. They had a gift, one the rest of us who aspire to be storytellers can only borrow.
The tradition of storytelling was still strong when I was born in 1959. I notice, every time I go home to Alabama, that it still is. Television hasn’t killed it. It might, yet. But it is nice to believe it will be there forever…. -“Somebody Told Me” by Rick Bragg