Gentle's Holler
Kerry Madden
Viking, 2005
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Gentle's Holler, Chapter One, Roasted Peanuts

From the high branch of our old red maple where I sit under a starry sky, I spy Mama in the bedroom tending to the babies. Down on the porch below, Daddy plays the banjo soft and sweet. Mama covers up my little sister, Gentle, who used to sleep in the shirt drawer in Mama's and Daddy's bedroom. She shares a crib with the twins, Caroline and Cyrus, because Mama just had herself another girl child, named, Appelonia who claims Gentle's drawer now.

I reckon in this family that's how you know you've done and gone graduated from being a baby—going from drawer to crib. I cannot recollect sleeping in a drawer myself though Mama swears all of us children did.

Though Gentle is in the big crib with the twins, none of them are much babies anymore—more like three growing snap beans, Mama calls them, with Gentle near three and the twins already four-years-old. It's called a Granny's crib, because during the day, Mama can fold it up to look like a regular chair, and Mama says with so many folks in the house we need all the chairs we can get. In the Granny's crib at night, all the little ones sleep snaked around each other like puzzle pieces.

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