41.3681° N, 89.4647° W,
my hometown
by Christine Thompson

with a population 7,660 last census proclaimed. 3,263 households,      1,978 families
reside, at these coordinates. Inanimate facts do not resonate character      or traits
of the people, who live, dwell and eventually die in this Midwestern      region. Where
blonde girls in piggy tails scream:“Go Tigers! Fight, Fight, Fight!” while      the Jaycees
grill hotdogs and burgers.

Interject the past, my hometown

If numbers had lips, they would recall. Underground railway. Owen      Lovejoy, humble
pastor and fierce abolitionist. Freed slaves. An oxymoron in a world full      of
oppression. Settled in the 1830s when he breathed in fragrant fields of
prairie grass. Innocence swept away down Bureau Creek up Canada.      Smell of dead
worms where Honest Abe slept here, there, everywhere, except our      crumbling jail.

Continue to salute the beginnings, my hometown

Men placed ballots in a hat. Gray Fedora. A christening of the first-born      name.
Others waited with bated breath, until Mr. Musgrove from Jersey chose the winner. Princeton: a city of quiet and pleasant homes. Birthed in the      spring like
a calf with steam rising from its flesh. “City of Elms” our nickname. Until      an
epidemic drank their sweet sap dry. Bureau County fair: black model-Ts,      humidity, dust.
But wait, modern marvels, my hometown

Chamber of Commerce on the web, Prairie Art’s Center with      Shakespearian plays.
24-row corn pickers with stereo, cool air. Downtown businesses slowly      fades where
country folk congregated. Now, Wal-mart devours our $39, 622 median      income.
Asphalt streets except for a few. Where bricks heave in winter, swell in      summer.
“Where Tradition Meets Progress” our motto. Still is.

A first person account. my hometown

I am one of those 7,660. Calculated. Precise. I wore blonde piggy tails, but rarely rallied my team. I walked the floors of Lovejoy’s burden and read his legacy, standing tall in Oakland Cemetery. I placed my ballot, but not for the birth of a town. I shopped downtown, but Wal-mart seduced my less-than-median income. My heart will always pump tradition. Inhale bittersweet fragrances of progress

my hometown 41.3681° N, 89.4647° W.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Main Street, Princeton, Illinois” by Jonesy.

Thompson Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine (Chris) Thompson currently lives in the small Midwestern town of Princeton, Ilinois. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a BA in English. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in River Currents, The Alchemist Review, The GNU, Fine Lines, Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Haibun, Scissors & Spackle, and more. Thompson’s first novel, a juvenile fiction adventure story: Mason’s Miracle, is forthcoming in the spring of 2014. Follow Thompson on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ChrisThompsonsAuthorPage) or on Twitter (@thompson_author ).

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Thompson lives in the heart of the Midwest where she enjoys watching the corn and soybeans grow. On occasion, she will even sit near a babbling brook and listen to the sounds of her inner poetic voice, spilling out creative ways to tell her stories. Her forte is prose; however she frequently diverts her attention to the brevity and conciseness found in verse.