Saturday, August 20, 2016
STILL NO RAIN
Still No Rain
"Still no rain." she said
Looking out the back door
At brown barren fields
And acres full of bitter dust.
The crops lay like skeletons
Of their former selves
Brittle, petrified, unedible straws
Dead of exhaustion in their sad quest for growth.
It was a long hot summer
Hotter than most........
Longer than most......
That summer from hell.
We didn't know then
What we shouldn't know now
We were young and innocent
And too full of youth.
Life is more noticable on a farm
It winds itself around you like kudzu on a hillside
Winds and chokes you half too death
Before you even see it's hand.
My mama, Anne, worked while Daddy slept
His angry fingers 'round a glass of tea
There in the shade of a shadeless tree
And all us children digging rows for the corn.
The sun was not our friend
It hated us and tried to kill us
It took away our swimming hole
It took away our wishing well.
And the skies refused to rain
And the soul felt only pain
Days on end and nights so thin
That they only seemed like shadows.
And he left us there in search of greener pastures
Packing up his Chevrolet with every dime he had
He couldn't meet my mama's eyes but I stared a hole clean through him
And Mama said, "Don't hate him, girl, cause he is still your dad."
And still the rains didn't come
Though we prayed with all of our hearts
Living on polk, water cresses and hope
While the days buzzed around us like bees.
My baby brother passed away
And there were only six
Five of us and one of her
And we soon learned she was sick.
She hid it very well
Until the day she fell
In the hot noon sun with a handful of seeds
That she'd bought with her last dollar.
I was a little girl, I didn't know
But I soon learned real fast
That little girls to women grow
When their futures turn to pasts.
And I raised them up and I did my job
And the summer turned to summer
With no fall or spring or anything
To mark the change of seasons.
One by one, the children went off
To find their way without me
And left me on that dead dirt farm
Where no seedless thing can grow.
I loved someone and he loved me
For the space of a dream and an eclipse of the sun
He planted things in me that he never would harvest
Then he ran down the road with the moon at his back.
One day my daddy showed up on the porch
Old and gray and full of mean
Pointing to a patch of earth,
He asked me how I kept it green.
"That's where Mama sleeps." I said to him
"And every morning, I find things to eat.
Potatoes and squash and beans and there's roses
Blooming at her head and Queen Anne's Lace at her feet."
He didn't say another word
Just turned and left without looking back
I picked up a rock to throw at his head
But was still standing there frozen when he faded from sight.
"Mama?" she said in her little girl voice
And I turned to the door at the sound of her smile
"It's alright, just a stranger out looking for water
But there's still no rain except on your grandmama's grave."
September 29, 2012