Dry Ground

I stumble on a fragment of curb, nearly turning an ankle, as I cross a disintegrating asphalt slab, a remnant of the street where I once lived. Without conscious thought I glance in both directions, more from childhood habit than necessity. There are no cars left. There’s nothing left, only a few shards of brick and stone, a faint curvature of sky and earth that feels vaguely familiar. I wander through this unmarked place, dead to me for forty years, remembering each house and family and tree that had been here before the water came.

It was an old town built along the Cumberland, that ancient channel snaking its way through the middle of the country from the mountains to the barrens and back to hills. The government said we needed flood control. Hydroelectric power. That we’d benefit from tourists in ski boats skimming along the giant lake that would rise when the river was dammed. They also said we had no choice.

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Jayne Moore Waldrop is a Lexington writer and attorney. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Madrid Journal, Kudzu, Luna Station Quarterly, Deep South, Limestone Journal, Minerva Rising, and Kentucky Monthly magazine. A contributing columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, she writes a monthly column about Kentucky books and authors.

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