Friday, May 10, 2013

ALTO TEXAS



I haven’t seen mom in 26 years. I haven’t been to her grave, where she sleeps next to dad, in more than 20 years.
But I’m going tomorrow, and take a rose, and place it there for her.

I’ll walk the dusty red road by her mothers place, look to see if the frame of the root cellar might still be there in the bank of the hill. When we were kids, into it we would peer, and shudder at the thought of what may be inside the cool dark earth.

Down the drive I’ll stroll past the big planter next to the black walnut tree; the well has been gone for some time, but likely there will be a trace, and I will remember trying to find my mother on the big porch.
I had lost her apron among all the other aprons, and I went to Uncle Jack, who told me she had fallen into the well.
“How do I get her back?” I asked in tears.
“Go turn the faucet in the kitchen on” he had told me.
What a bastard, that Uncle Jack.

I’ll look to see if my cousins homemade horse pen is still there, rustic and made from several hundred saplings, held into an almost perfect circle by baling wire and whatever, and by the sheer strength of Kevins cowboy ways.

Next door to my mothers mothers place is my mothers mothers sisters place, from a time when family and community were indistinguishable, a time when towns were just big families, and you only needed a few families and a couple of loners to make a town. A time before the family’s had all scattered. Both house’s both looked the same, with the well, and the wrap around porch, the fig trees and plum trees from which jellys and preserve were made. Under pecan trees in the back yard there would be a stove, used for canning during the summer, sitting there bare like the trees in the winter, under the glare of the Vapor light.
I'll look to see if the big iron cauldron is still there, right in the middle of the yard, used for boiling cane and sorghum to make the syrup and molasses Uncle Jack liked on his bisquits in the morning.

I’ll walk back out to the road, along the stretch I remember from when I was a very little boy and my cousin Patricia had taken me by the hand and we picked flowers from the roadside to make a bouquet. I thought she was beautiful, this young girl Pat who would become Miss Little Rock a few years later, and maybe tomorrow there will be flowers for me to pick, and to place there for Pats mother, my mothers sister. Maybe there will be enough blooms for all four sisters; raised in Alto Texas, they are together in Alto Texas, still.

Maybe there will be flowers enough for all the great aunts, and all the grandfathers and grandmothers, all the cousins and second cousins, and half brothers.
Maybe there will even be one tiny one for Uncle Jack, the good man with the barbed wire wit and big heart.
It seems certain parts of the family haven’t scattered after all.


5 comments:

SL said...

Someone on FB commented that "You know it's good when we feel like we are walking right next to you". Could not have said it better myself! You can almost feel the spring breeze on your face and see the faded images of Sunday dinners past. Great post Steve. Now I have go and fix my mascara and call my Mom.

Kristi said...

Wow....beautiful, Bullets. I love how it just flows, so easy, like I was right there in your memory.

soubriquet said...

You write a great story.

You should have a column in a paper, though, sadly, the age of the local paper, which knitted together the skeins of local people's lives, is fast fading.
But, you know, if I was living around Alto, Texas, this is just the sort of story that I'd want to read, I'd wander about, taking in the sights more carefully, I'm always fascinated by trying to imagine the people who were here before us, the people who left their mark on our world.
I'd be looking at that horse-pen, at twists of rusty wire, I'd look at houses, wonder who tied the old rope that once held a swing...

"Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter of children in the foliage
Quick now, here now, always-
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after."

red dirt girl said...

This is beautiful, cowboy.
The best 'mother's day post' yet!
I'm with SL - have to fix my mascara and call mom.

xxx

bulletholes said...

Souby, I've written a follow up to this, and you comment captures part of the follow up.
Thank ya'll for the comments. It was one of thiose posts that just fell out onto the paper. Thats always a good sign.