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  • Round County Almanac
  • John Shoptaw

Each of the new counties established their boundaries exactly twelve miles from McMinnville, with the result that by 1844 Warren County had acquired its distinctive round shape and its nickname, “the round county.”

The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture

It took dominion everywhere.

—Wallace Stevens, “Anecdote of the Jar”

Evenings such as these, one mounts hills.Even such a one—tall, portly, with an airof blessedness, an urge to be fruitful and conjugate(Tennessee, Tennessaw, Tennesseen),to bask in apple moonshine, line up dominoes.

Such a one would mount such a hill,chestnutted summit of a county round by law,imaginary hub of the parallelogram state,parallelogram being another word for poem.

April is June here, where streams run to the Gulfand purple magnolia litter and bobwhite quail arebecoming. But when the thing one carriesuphill is round, its spiced contents clear, why,the chaotic peaks of the eastern state linelook like the Sloven family come to market,all bushel baskets and overalls, smoking.

Salamanders on moonlit balds will sprawl,and bats like notes from cavern mouths will spill,and black bears slathering for a long cinnamonfinish will put one, not to rout but in mindof one’s return railway ticket. One runsfrom nothing without leaving somethingempty but upright in memory of oneself. [End Page 129]

John Shoptaw
Kensington, California


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