– Rik Smits (1988-2000)
For instance, Indiana is a surprisingly strange state. People do not expect this because we associate the Midwest with benign normality. But Indiana is a surprisingly strange state. This is mostly true: Did you know that more U.S. Vice-Presidents were born in Indiana than nearly any other state in the history of the Republic? I was also known as a sidekick. Some would argue that the memorable thing about Indiana is just how flat it is. I was also known for being relatively quiet. There are parts of Indiana that refused to recognize the time-change, some such about the cows, a train. Suppose for a minute that two identical twins are born in Indiana. Now suppose that one twin is raised here and the other is raised in another state. I am not talking about space—just another state. Will they age at the same rate? Of course. This is crazy to even think about, but will they have a different feel for the seasons and the dawn, the dusk? That, I am not so sure about. All I am unsure about, I will admit, the amount of which is somewhat considerable. Everyone knows less than what they know. Earlier this year, the Governor of Indiana passed a discriminatory law with “Freedom” in the title. Now, Indiana, which is oft-forgotten, is in the news. Most of my career, I, too, was an afterthought. Indiana, despite what you may think, seems to prefer flamboyant characters. For instance, the most popular man in the history of Indiana was a man who threw tantrums in red sweaters. That is what we call surprising. I have already confessed to you here that the cosmos, full of mysteries, is more surprising than not; and yet, I’m always surprised by how much surprise, at my age, I still experience. What is a Hoosier anyway? What is a Pacer? Natural-born citizens of Indiana are legally mandated, at birth, to root for the Hoosiers, the Pacers, or, preferably, both. I am not even joking. I am not even joking. Those that choose to opt-out of this birth-clause are allowed, after paperwork and fees, to do so but only because we are in the twenty-first century. In turn, they must agree to watch every Indianapolis 500; they must root for the Colts. I am Dutch, which means I come from somewhere you’ve never been to but likely associate with windmills and dikes. Interestingly, my life is similar to Indiana: I dedicated my career to one sport and my retirement to another. It’s truly amazing how reminiscent we are of where we’ve lived, which is, in my case, of course, as you know, Indiana. Why even now, with inevitable death approaching, I’m beginning to notice the ways I resemble its shape…
The days like lost crops—
I remember being young
Michael Marberry‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Republic, West Branch, Crab Orchard Review, Sycamore Review, Indiana Review, Bat City Review, and elsewhere. A 2015 Pushcart Prize recipient, Michael is currently pursuing his PhD at Western Michigan University, where he serves as Assistant Coordinator of the Creative Writing Program and as Coordinator of the Poets-in-Print Reading Series. He hails from Tennessee.