Bottle Tree / In a Bucket

21 Apr

They’ve hung empty glass bottles from the branches of a dead tree outside Barna’s home. I like how they swing with the wind. They’re different colors. I like the sound they make when a storm’s rolling in and the gusts kick up and around the dead, burnt trunk. It’s like someone’s blowing in all of them at the same time. And they tap one another. It sounds like a maniacal kid playing the bassoon and xylophone in dissonance.
That’s my grandma. It must be time for dinner. She always yells out. Afterwards she feeds the leftovers to the pig. She puts pieces of bread and cut up parts of vegetables in a big, iron bowl and pours milk all over them. Then she takes it out to the pig.
The villagers believe that evil spirits are trapped in the bottles at night. When the sun rises in the morning, the spirits are destroyed by the light. I like that legend. Even though I know it’s just a legend. Even though I’m only eight years old with a mop of dirty blonde hair and a scar on my left hip from a goose bite the summer before.
–Alyess! Get inside and into the bath before you eat!
I go in first. In the big bucket. It’s how it’s done usually. Grandma boils water on the stove and dumps it into the gigantic, wooden bucket and I go in first. My skin turns red like a lobster’s. Scrub and brush and out. Grandpa gets in after me. If my cousin is there, she goes in first, then me, then grandpa. And finally, his undershorts and socks. It used to be the other way around. Socks and undershorts in first. They stayed. Then all of us, one by one. And then my mum saw her kid one summer, wading around grandpa’s stained undergarments in the bucket in the middle of the courtyard. Now it’s reversed. Laundry in last.
The Bottle Tree is also in America. In the South. It’s part of black culture. It’s African roots. I’m not to know that for a few more years. I just know it. But I don’t know it.
–Alyess! Inside now, before I give you the beating of your life.
That’s my grandma. Dinnertime.


4 Responses to “Bottle Tree / In a Bucket”

  1. Kunstemaecker 21/04/2008 at 7:03 PM #

    Would you be interested in doing a guest post on my blog? No rules.

  2. Kunstemaecker 22/04/2008 at 2:09 AM #

    It still amazes me how you are able to suck people into the story no matter how short it is.

    Have you ever written a novel or have you ever considered writing one?

  3. (S)wine 22/04/2008 at 8:35 AM #

    K Man, yes to the first comment. On its way. Thanks for the second. I have written one novel but after initial interest from agents, it never went further. I am trying to put together a collection of re-worked short stories, and I’ve started a novel with a working title: “Bus Fare to Somewhere Else.”

  4. Slyboots 22/04/2008 at 7:36 PM #

    I like the idea of the bottles aging on the tree, and turning color from the sun.

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