Last Upon The Land

2 Feb

“Mhm,” she says, “that was after the war you climbed up there and rearranged the barn.”
She washes dishes in the outdoor kitchen by the pigsty and the empty rabbit cages.
“That was the summer the dog hung himself by accident with the chain draped across his shelter, and the kitten climbed up the side of the wall, remember that one? The scoundrel was a spider…”
Shadows run quickly across the muddy yard and over the chopping block, which now rots from the humidity and neglect.
“There’s where your father used to sit and play backgammon with that lousy Mr. Hen. He put perfume on his hair, remember that smell? What was that? Brilliantine? What man does that?”
Only on Sundays.
“Did you hear me? Where are you off to? Vagabond! If you see your father down there drinking, hoist him up on your back and bring him home.”
Da used to come in drunk, in the middle of the night and wake up everyone and make us sing revolutionary songs and recite communist poetry. And then he would piss on the walls and beat us.
“Eh, piss on the walls…you’re exaggerating.”
When he went, we made peace, and he went because he was tired and he wanted to go.
“Eh he was tired…it was the mud baths that killed him. They was supposed to help.”


“The two hundred you left me I spent on firewood for the winter season. Was it two hundred or two thousand?”
In the front yard, behind the fence, away from the road the old man had vines which yielded fruit every autumn. He strung chicken wire to partition the grapes from the rest of the land and behind the small vineyard he kept chords and chords of dried firewood. Nowadays she goes out to check on the soil every other afternoon.
“Your Da pulled out the vines in 1976 but the earth…you can’t neglect the earth.”


Sometimes she forgets. The other day I found her in her front yard, close to the gate, wandering around hyperventilating. She had become lost. I’m gonna run a telephone wire from the road into the house so she can call whenever she wants.


“Mhm. I might’ve thought twice if your father wasn’t away at the war but you deserved a spankin. All you boys was gettin to be donkeys without Da.”
She looks up to the boysenberry tree out front and checks for mooching vagabonds climbing up the trunk, into the branches.
“Goddamit, if I catch them boys up there again I swear to Christ I’ll take a pitchfork to them, as God is my witness.”
And she crosses herself while she spits out into the dusty earth.
“…as God is my witness.”


2 Responses to “Last Upon The Land”

  1. Slyboots 03/02/2009 at 11:36 AM #

    As god is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again.

    Amen, brother. Amen. And I do love these people. Am looking forward to complete submersion in their world one day. No pressure, though.

  2. (S)wine 03/02/2009 at 1:26 PM #

    I believe her. As God is my witness, I do.

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