• Sarah Ratermann Beahan

Americana in Triplicate




Americana in Triplicate

A draft.


Every fire truck in the county led the march

Followed by several brightly painted muscle cars and a big rig with signs emblazoned “Crusin’ for a Cause”

the cause was unspecified

Then came three cheerleaders in green and gold

Six Boy Scouts waving a flag

A rusted out silver Dodge Ram with a bed full of merrymakers waving flags for Al’s Saloon,

likely driven by Al himself followed.

Behind the revelers, a woman walked with a rolling cart affixed with poster board signs reading $Bargain Bin$.

The most elaborate float was a boat atop a flatbed trailer christened USS Constitution,

sponsored by the County Republicans.


The whole thing lasted eleven minutes

I checked.

My throat seized up, perhaps from emotion over the whole humble affair,

or because the wildfire smoke made it hard to swallow.

I watched a small girl run up and down the street with a plastic shopping bag

to collect her sweets and

I worried for her lungs.

Seagulls flashed and vanished over the lake, obscured by the haze.

My eyes watered as I squinted to watch.

The neighbor’s barbeque smoke mingled and fraternized with guest plumes from

hundreds of miles away.


Earlier, I saw a woman at the intersection near the big box stores.

She wore a pretty coral jumpsuit and her hair was pulled back into a ponytail

Her poster read

I need help. I have 2 kids. I can’t pay my rent.

I reached into my wallet and fumbled for my farmers market cash

As I pressed it into her hand, she said

I am so sorry

I felt her shame like the heaviness of smoke in my chest

the insistence of her apology like fingers around my throat.

You don’t have to be sorry

I said.

My husband, the driver, began to inch the car forward

mindful of the Audi behind us waiting to turn

Take good care of yourself


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