Sunday, August 16, 2009

Send the Ghosts on their way…

Tell them they've had their day. It’s someone else’s tomorrow.
-Patty Griffin

We have just returned from returning home.

The epic journey through the heart of our country to the place where the Producer and I cut our teeth on shoe leather and Baptist church revivals. (Rather, he cut his teeth on his father’s sports car’s leather seats, and I came through by way of Equine surgical procedures…and Baptist church revivals.)

Through the heart with oil derricks like giant, grazing, iron horses, rusting out in the fields where they’ve been standing for the last thirty years. Hawks spiral against a pale blue sky, indifferent to the progress below. Highways scraped, resurfaced; in perpetual and varying stages of repair and disrepair. Cottonwood trees with ragged edges sprout leaves and hold them close to their trunks, leaving their fingertips bare, daring the tumultuous wind to try to take them down. Just try it. Farmers with their great expanses of land, two story tractors, ancient farm trucks, and the hard earned lines etched in their faces.

Through the mid-land states with their ribbons of highway knitting the country together from one end to the other, where the gray, heavy clouds sag toward the earth and the farmer’s fields sit up in the expectant way a child peers in the windows of a candy shop.

The soil turns from Saffron to Cayenne somewhere south of the Oklahoma state line.

This trip is always a sort of backward rebirth for me. I am certain that I catch reflections of myself as a girl in familiar places. More often, though, I catch glimpses of little boys here and there whom I could swear were my little brother. I will often whisper to myself, “Resist. Resist” as I pass by these little Sethy doppelgangers in order to steel myself from scooping them up or mussing their buzz cut heads.

I have decided that we leave pieces of ourselves like shadows or tattoos on the landscape as we come through. Moles on the skin of the world. Freckles maybe.

There are places I return to now, in my thirties, that have physical memory of my childhood self. I could curl up on the grass at Brookhaven Park and have a conversation with the seven year old girl who found the courage inside to skip a bar on the monkey bars all the way there and back. And then the uncertain eighteen year old girl would come and sit by us and barrage the seven year old with questions about certainty and courage and direction. And we would both listen with rapt attention as the second grader did her best to share what she knows. And then the eighteen year old me would kiss my seven year old head and squeeze my thirty-one year old hand and amble back to the third swing from the left and wait for The Producer to ask his question. And she will say yes on that swing in Brookhaven Park.

I do little of the talking in these holy places and almost all of the listening. It's hard for me to leave when there is still so much to be said.

Chihuly installation, Oklahoma City Museum of Art


painted maypole said...

sounds like you heard a lot.

(at jazz fest this year i heard Patty Griffin, then 10 minutes later stood 5 feet away from her as we both listened to Tony Bennett)

flutter said...

this is just lovely

Mary G said...

Terrific! So well written and so evocative.
My dream places are all gone now because fifty years is a long time and you must have progress. Sad, but I have them in my memory and my heart.

Amanda said...

Why am I only just finding you?