pretty how towns

Below is my personal response to ee.cummings’ poem anyone who lived in a pretty how town. In this piece I explore the separation between the minds of children and adults, for children have yet to slip into life’s mundane routine. The narrator in the piece is inspired by myself as a child and how my childhhod imagination saw the beauty in absolutley everything around it. Every piece and person was a story – especially on road trips, where I would use my window as a looking glass, exploring the fleeting world outide.



we are driving through a pretty how town.

the pretty buildings whoosh by my window, their colours blending together like an artist’s pallet – a beautiful array of browns and whites and beige dancing in my little car window. I watch the pretty how town as if I were watching a play, the people (the actors) are breathtaking, unlike anything I have ever seen in my short life. they walk their dance and breathe their beat the sidewalk never seems to touch their feet. they float like angels – like ghosts – beautiful and lost and I can’t quite place what it is about them that seems so strange.

we stop for gas in the pretty how town.

the people are closer. I watch the gas attendant fill the car (glug glug glug) his name tag reads “phil”. what a boring name. someone who lives in such a strange town ought to have a strange name to go along. the pretty how town hid its secrets behind ugly names (phil). where did they keep all of their secret things (in the pretty buildings of course) like clocks that struck thirteen and books with no first page? (phil is looking at me because I was looking at phil) I do not look away. he does not smile he just keeps filling the car (glug glug glug). dad pays him and he and mom get back in the car and we drive out of the pretty how town’s secret gas station.

we get stuck at the red in the pretty how town.

I stare at the light and in it I see phil (I still don’t look away) if I do, I lose to anyone in the pretty how town. there’s a Woman crossing the street pushing a stroller – the baby grows smaller and smaller each day. the baby in the stroller in the street in the pretty how town dreams its sleep, and when it wakes, shall cry its grief. how strange these people and these babies, how fascinated I am by them and their pretty how town. I love it here. I love the pretty buildings and the secret gas station (and phil) and the strolling babies. one day I want to live in a strange place such as this.

we are leaving the pretty how town

“what a boring little town,” my dad huffs from the front seat.

“yeah,” my mother says in reply.

“yeah,” I say.

we keep driving, onto the next pretty how town.

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One thought on “pretty how towns

  1. Dear Emily,

    This is one of my absolute favourite personal pieces I read of yours, which I find ironic in the fact it seems to be outside of your comfort zone.

    You managed to bring the exact image of what a “pretty how town” is to life, and to life in such a beautiful and complex and simple way. I adored your choice to only capitalize “I” – it adds weight and even more meaning to the thoughts and feelings of the narrator.

    I also absolutely adored the ending to this piece. The suggestion of compliance and a desire to belong through the narrator simply agreeing with the words of her parents, her superiors seems to be the beautiful, tragic ending to such a beautiful, tragic story.

    Thank you for this wonderful piece.

    With love,

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