Edge of Seventeen, Mississippi Delta, Summer 1982

by Stuart Phillips

Plowing down Delta in Jerry’s white Spitfire, cheap speakers make us cooler than the breeze, top down, “don’t you want me baby” impressing because everyone listens to the words as we make the Friday night loop from downtown Clarksdale to the Sonic Drive-In, launching from Yazoo between Woolworth’s acres of plate glass windows and Penney’s where you got your first real Harris Tweed blazer but now you chill in the shirt plucked from Merry Go Round at the Mall of Memphis because you thought it looked like Joe Strummer, a quick right onto First Street by the alabaster Bank of Clarksdale that doesn’t know it only has a few years left before it gets gobbled up by a chain out of Alabama but none of us know what’s going to gobble us up and spit us out or shit us out so we smile down Desoto under the bridge trestle and pass our parade through the other side of town where we turn the volume up one notch and everyone carefully looks straight ahead and we all pretend that their mothers don’t come into our houses and clean every week and that Josie didn’t raise us while our parents worked and we pretend that there are good reasons not to loop around on Florence Avenue and we pretend that we all accept that this is how it is done and how it was always done and how it will always be.

Stuart Phillips is an expatriate Mississippian, former Army officer, and recovering lawyer who now lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York. A graduate of Ole Miss, Pepperdine (JD), and Fairfield University (MFA), Stuart is slowly driving himself mad with revisions on The Great Southern Novel. You can follow his descent at stuartphillips.work or on Instagram @deltawriter12.


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