“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

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I was one of the first to board and last to un-board my 45-minute elementary school bus route, as it trolled unincorporated subdivisions near the Illinois State Line. I lived on three acres between farm plots. We didn’t lock our doors, and our house was quiet. My parents’ tape collection was light and a-political. My older sister had introduced me to classic rock and New Wave, but nothing hard-core.

The bus driver – who I’m pretty sure smoked as he drove – preferred the region’s hard-rock radio station, The BLAZE. Metallica, Black Sabbath – it was all in the mix and played very loudly to the joy of my bus-mates. Guns N’ Roses held special worth. Axl was a Hoosier. Cedar Lake boys mirrored him: long hair, tattoos, t-shirts. He existed in their life.

This song now makes me cry. The smell of vinyl seats, pulling my knees into my chest, putting my cheek to the bus window, corn fields unrolling, “Where do we go now?” exquisitely wailing – everything comes back that I naively wanted to erase.

-Jessica Baran

Jessica Baran is the author of two books of poetry, Equivalents (Lost Roads, 2013) and Remains to Be Used (Apostrophe Books, 2010). Born in Cedar Lake, Indiana, she now lives in St. Louis, where she is an art writer, teacher and director of fort gondo compound for the arts.

Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints? Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

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