Hoopie: A Haibun
The Starcher’s used the word everywhere—In the confined spaces of the one-story home, the living room floor accommodating all fifteen of the cousins for bed. Hoopie sat with us in that house on top of the rolling hills, overlooking Easter Flower Hollow. It circled the round oak dining room table, just barely big enough to squeeze us near it. Hoopie was there at 2A.M. Spades was the favored game and Grandma Alice had just finished calling Pap Jack a cheater, flicking him off, her stick thin legs crossed neatly under the table.
In West Virginia, Hoopie was empowering. In Pennsylvania, the word caused confusion. My father yelling out to me at my middle school soccer games—“You Hoopie!” was always followed by a wolf call—a beaming grin when I would look his way.
Hoopie meant wild, abrasive, even loud. It meant loving and passionate about life and all of its natural forms, like the towering pine trees that collected like furred pillars rising from the earth. Our names are still carved in their aging trunks. Hoopie was the sparrow that laid its unhatched eggs in the gutter on the backside of the house, its nest blocking the rainwater, but still far too precious to be moved and destroyed. Hoopie was being barefoot on all surfaces, from hot asphalt, to stone and gravel driveways, the rocks stuck in the callused heels of our worn-out feet. Hoopie is picking fresh vegetables from the garden and tasting the flavors before ever reaching the sink to wash them off.
It is not leaving
the hills. It is more sacred
than that. It is home.
Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to email@example.com. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.