March 25, 2005
En Route to Sea Grove, near Pottery, N. C.
“How about if my baby in my belly died and you were the only one who knew. O.K.? Let’s p-tend.” Ah, the whispered life of four-year-olds. Then just as soon all attention goes back to the tandem grooming of their matching white unicorns. Bindi and Kaelyn, mirror image Ackermann’s in so many ways. Sharing toys, “Oh Honey, what have you been doing today. I’ve got to brush your hair again; it’s so snotty today. Are you ready for your lessons? You know I’m so angry with you, my daughter. Now I’m snuggling up with you cause you ate a good dinner and I’m giving you a candy an tomorrow we’ll go to Disney Land and get you a lot of candy. But you’ve got lemon in your hair.”
Meanwhile, we’ve got ideas of death and dearth of our own. A nice big headstone with one name, Bland. A white poaching bloated deer roadside. A new spring lawn mowed down. A magnolia so wanting of sun that it might lay back to branch. A foot walk’s worth of daffodils so bright, but waiting to be trod or parked upon. A pretty yellow house with a crescent of matching workshops and a sign, “Faith Cabinet Works.” God in every drawer I suppose. A hollow laid low under that fettuccini of gray hair again. “It must be the Kudzu,” I remark to Ilse, hoping she’ll notice that I’m doing well in my schooling of flora that she’s so good to give me. I continue, “It must get all over its host in that embrace and then smother, smother until it’s host dies and the tangled Kudzu with it.” She parries, “Or it’s just hibernating.” And we pass on.
Ducks on rain ponds shriveling slowly toward summer. Goat mothers laid up sideways like child-sized mounds. Sleeping calves, their heads turned back on resting shoulder blades, as if broken back says my city eye, cowering from the lucky butcher. All the fields, now cute with small sheep or one Brahma bull, are all fields that might be battlefields – O! How I long for more history. A cute little white kitty in a jumble of its own cranberries, fetal near the centerline. A lonely A frame mobile home with big windows and no one in it. In fact, that’s the deathliest part, not a soul to be seen anywhere except for one corpse of a woman dragging from a butt on her impoverished porch off the lee side of her strip home. Rusted bus hulls beside foundering hay lofts. Empty parking lots of churches, Solid Rock Baptist Church, Kind Cross, White Steeple. A graveyard with is stones all festooned in ribbons and flowers like so many winners at a pony show. A wrecking yard outside Jugtown. Hulls upon hulls giving unto clear-cut swaths of the reddest earth.
Everywhere and everywhere, mobile homes, as much a blight as the Kudzu. The placement of a mobile home upon the land almost certainly ensures the withering to mulch of any other structures of ancestry still on that chunk of lot. There’s an amazing lie being passed down to the new generations, one that says vinyl will keep out the elements forever, the chicken coop will keep, the shed is leaning and don’t never mind, pappy’s old place is gone swayback too, and with pappy still in it – ain’t it all how it really looked! – and don’t you never mind no how. Yes, some houses, though so empty with neglect, looking like they must somehow be inhabited despite the tilt and toothlessness of the lost mortar between old timbers and you’d never think but for story books some old hobbit would therein lay up but for the small smoke rising from a bent chimney.