Senses are heightened.
Look around. Notice.
I push the radio off button, roll down the windows and soak up the humidity. A faint cool breeze chills my left shoulder, tickling thoughts of early mornings, Mom driving me to the mill where the yellow school bus waited for me. The air thick with the scent of cotton and pesticides, intoxicating. Outside the school zone, no one knew until the end of my senior year. But they played nice. They let me stay until graduation instead of sending me off to a country school class of 20, if that.
Milk of magnesia sky, burning leaves, cow dung.
Lazy cows sitting in the grass. Does that mean it’s going to rain? Green green, like the crayons I used to love. Remember those? I still have some, but they’re in a bag atop my closet. Note: Use them. Do they still make boxes of 64 with the sharpener? Weren’t those the best?
Separated by a lonesome road, rice fields to the left and right of me, dotted with traps sporting red hats. It’s crawfish season. Don’t forget to eat some before they’re all gone.
Road kill out here is normal, but haven’t seen any dogs this time around. Once I almost stopped to take a picture of a freshly rotting opossum. I’d rather say possum, but they only exist in Australia. It reminded me of the intro to True Blood, and I thought, “that’s where I am. I am living inside an episode of True Blood.” Aren’t there Australian actors in that show? At least one. I didn’t take the picture though. I saw another one today in town. I didn’t take a picture of that one either.
Dead skunk in the middle of the road. Smells like it too.
If I asked my cousins if I could sit on their porch to soak up a few minutes of my roots, my childhood, would they think I was crazy? Typical city girl. She always was a bit off. My town has a population of around 125,000; theirs’ has fewer than 1600.
Where is the bearded man? He’s not at the foot of the bridge today. Think he might tend to that junkyard, but I never stop to read the sign, or say hello. I do wave. Sometimes he hitchhikes. Nana said not to pick him up, though I’m tempted. I feel like I know him, but I don’t. “You never know, he might be crazy. You don’t want to get into something you can’t get out of.” Kind of like how people act with their neighbors these days, or inside elevators. God forbid they expect you to talk to them every time.
Looking forward to eating that boudin on my Popeye’s biscuit. I want coffee, but Earl Grey will do. Diet. Gentler on my stomach, my nerves.
Slow down, let the crazy drivers pass me by. Where is there to go in such a hurry? The birds sure are out today.
Spruce? Longleaf? Loblolly? Hugging my entrance now into town. Some are dead. Some flourish. Some are naked. Some are intertwined with purple flowers. I don’t know what those are called.
Out of my car, I stop at WalMart to get Nana’s groceries. “Mooooo”, go the cows in the trailer stopped for gas. Cows. At WalMart. I snatch a couple of wet wipes before taking a buggy. The woman in front of me does the same. Freshly cooked chickens, not even $5. I shouldn’t because they’re probably factory chickens. But they smell so good. And Nana wants one.
A legless man wheels himself across the highway, plastic bagged purchases in lap. The semis let him pass; so do I.
“Welcome to Buddy’s. Prepare to be Enchanted.” Excited to see what this wonderworld of groceries has in store, I step inside. Blank faces. Slow. Good morning. Markdowns: eggplants, yellow squash, bananas and apples, cabbage, broccoli become stewed cabbage, boiled turnips that go great with greens, stuffed eggplant with Phil’s deer meat, brown rice, mushrooms, bell peppers and cheese. Steamed broccoli. Banana ice cream. She eats the apples just like that, but peeled and cut into slices.
Thank you Ma’am. Have a nice day. I tip him $2. Looks like a new cupcake shop has opened up down the street. They’re gonna have café lattés soon.
This is the silent America. This, is the silent America. This is, the silent America.