sure, i wasn’t that. i grew up in the texas equivalent to a jungle and worse, the home inside was also grave with dangers. the biting roaches, the scorpions, the poor widowed wolf spiders made to carry their children on their backs until an age, the snakes and my mother
so, i rode bikes away, go carts, small boats and my bare feet. i went to a small green house, more often than not. just across the pond. within the hearing distance of my own home and in plain sight of it. while we played out of doors there, i felt a family within and i loved them all so much- they won’t ever know that now. but, i hope that i was a polite guest from 1 to close to 9 years of age when our city began to boom and my other folks, poor folks in the green house were forced to move back to their own country and pray to nuzzle the bosom left there when their dreams or maybe even their wishes for a city life became a joke.
it was almost as if they left before the doom boom with fateful grace. the house sits rented, by it’s only following inhabitant.. a coach for the middle school who has been there long as or longer than my other family.
my other family ate poorly. but, the things they ate are my comfort foods. with food come the smells of food and with smell the memories of man burn back into him.
recently, i went into the garage of a friend of mother’s and at once, it was my grandmother’s garage, once her husband’s before i was born. it smelled of a certain metallic and chemical way worn thin by thousands of times of opened doors, parking, leather seats too hot to sit upon and exhaust from leaded gasoline. out the next door not to the house, but beyond, the laundry room. some specific detergent. no dryer. when my dearest grandmother died we hung the pink carnations from her bouquets in there until they were as dry and dead as she was. i cannot recall when i rid myself of the last flower. it was long ago. so, the next door out into the yard. a clothes line and then trees, tortoises, horned toads and black cicadas. the horned toads, not toads at all would expel a forceful spurt of blood from their own eyes in the face of their captor.. me. but the more deft creatures just hid and quickly to any sound of the laundry door. some snakes, some rabbits. all hunted among each other, hid well from me, never knowing how much i cared for them or that i only meant to keep them for a night.
i had a horrible discovery once. i had been led to believe that a cicada could be leashed and flown such as a kite. i had only red yarn and i carefully fashioned a harness between the head and thorax of the pilot. at first flight, his wings lashed so fervently for freedom that the head and body separated. the head fell as the poor insect flew. i knew then that i was a killer. i was not to be consoled. i hated what i had done so much. but, young children charge back at defeat and sorrow. at least i always did.
then it came to me, as it would to most children, that i could still fly a cicada. i had to adjust the harness. the females would do better than the males for their large sound producing organs at their stomach would not be in the way. to tear another apart would have made me ill. but, i was curious… to the peril of many of these great insects. the perfect harness was cumbersome in the end. it had to be surrounding the cicada’s legs and abdomen leaving them little hope of landing out of bounds, but also underneath the delicate wings.
it worked! i loved them and my ingenuity! each pilot flew only one flight before freedom. then another day came where i fastened the yarn wrong. it was easy to make a mistake wearing the fingers of a child who could still not embroider. the pilot made haste to join the company of freedom. when she did, her abdomen wrenched from her thorax and her wings and head left their ruins far behind because i let go of the yarn at once. i never took another pilot. i was in mourning for being a child and stupid and even cruel. i had never meant to be cruel. i let the cicadas alone and street by street, the neighbors burned their trees or hacked them to shrubs with white painted wounds to discourage the next loosing of thousands of warriors. i had endured combat, it seemed and i had no stomach for saddling cicadas again. the poisons and burnings finished more than i had begun.
i was still small then, but i could see clearly at my grandmother’s (mother’s mother) that i was in a different country of texas. i liked it well but for the heat that the panhandle is famous for. mirage, gourds and oil. so much oil. i’m lucky i didn’t truly live there. central texas was much more green and alive and it’s fauna ever more a challenge and reward to capture. with family history now within a grasp not meant for children’s minds i understand clearly how we drove east, never to return for long.
while my mother tolerated wildlife well, later allowing us to nurse fallen squirrels back to health by bottle, letting me keep a small opossum that i’d gathered from ten others in oven mits, and tolerating a ferret later. it wasn’t lady like. it was wild and my son-less father loved it all.
i hated dresses and make-up and falsity so i was what i willed. a tom of long hair and short trust. while i never became used to the dreaded con(dis)junction, “ain’t”, i might have without the constant and profuse refusal of such a child as that i was becoming.. south or not, we lived in a city and if i had any hope, i was always reminded, it would be to marry well.
how i lost the game for them is another story. the smells of memory preserve the memories themselves now. one smell. quite of import to my perceived failure is that of the cheapest scotch. i chose love every single time, to my parent’s tears. that is why they let me mire, ill and in poverty. it is my punishment for not being “lady-like”. i eat it, willingly.
i learned how to mix drinks at an early age. never thinking of sipping that sick, i brought it out, time and time again, like a dutiful tom. i can certainly say that they did not affront me with ideals of being lady like as i served them into dark, it was misfortune that they didn’t realize that i was playing a part that was un-childlike. that was ok then as it served their wants. it wasn’t entirely my fault. it was only later that i had to take my responsibility and as genetics had it… for a time i afforded great relief from my own scotch whiskey. but, never that cheap alcoholic shit- no, the aged and barreled, noble alcoholic swill. that was well before and not much of a story, really. an alcoholic is always an alcoholic, i didn’t learn for a while that the origin of the swill mattered very little.
oh, friends, this is a strange week. please listen. i’ve too much to say, but i’m trying to flay it apart before i tell you the bomb. it will not serve to say without the background i am trying to establish.
thank you all