22 March 2013

Stabat Mater, You Might Say

Nev'th'less, she stood there. All hangedy-outy like she was. You know how she was.” Folly Martin sucked a bit of barbecue out of his teeth and spat after he said this. “Damby, but'n if she wasn't a fool sometimes. Know what I mean, Tiller?”

Tiller just kept quiet and kicked at the dust. Lots of dust in Crawford County, there is. That's what my uncle John always used to say.

Lots of dust here in the county,” he'd say.

Can't blame a man for just saying what's true. You know what I mean.

Anyhow, Folly spit some barbecue out of his teeth again and Tiller kicked the dust. “I think she knew it was the end,” he said, “and she didn't care too much. And I don't rightly mean she was hangedy-outy in that she was anything other than likin' to hang out with folks. Know what I mean?”

The question was again met with silence and a kick of the dust. Tiller pushed his baseball cap back off his forehead and cleared his throat.

She never said anything, until I said something that I didn't think I was gonna' say.” said Folly. “Somethin' pretty bad. Not 'bout her or anything, just 'bout me. She knew it and I knew it, and she just made a noise so's there was no way I could miss what she meant by it. It was like a cry. A cry, I tell you. A cry. Anyone ever do anything like that for you? Do something without sayin' a word so's that you know exactly what they mean?”

Tiller scratched the center of his chest and coughed. He spit again into the dirt, and then pulled his cap down again over his eyes.

So we all knew. She knew anyway. I think ever' damned person knew,” said Folly. “I just had to get over it and not say it again. You hear?”

Tiller looked off at the dry pea fields. “Who wouldn't cry?” he asked in a voice. A voice like bitter anguish.

We've all got a voice like that somewhere, I'd guess.

And in that harsh southern sun another patch of Crawford County dust got hard baked like a stone of stumbling.

08 March 2013

Stone of Anointing

There was an old man sitting on top of that hill. Sitting, smoking, scratching. The usual. You sit and you scratch and you smoke and the next thing you know you get around to thinking. Thinking isn't all that bad as long as you keep it in check and don't think about the things you're not supposed to think about. You know how it goes – you start thinking about things like being free or following your own will or someone's will or how we are all so different and that it isn't such a bad thing and then the next thing you know you might start to think differently than other folk want you to think.

That's OK for you and me, but it sure isn't OK for them.

You have to think the way they think.

But I probably digress. Anyhow, back to what I was saying. The old man was sitting there, up on top of that hill, and he was smoking and scratching and then he did indeed get to thinking his own thoughts, and some of those thoughts were a little inflammatory, but they weren't all that odd – lots of folks had actually had thoughts like his in the past, but most had abandoned thinking that way.

Crazy how it goes like that, I say.

So he gets to thinking, and wouldn't you just know it, but some folk didn't appreciate it all that much. They tried to distract the old man with offerings of smoked meats and a few bits of cheese, but it wasn't any use. “This is a discussion we probably shouldn't have,” said one of the folk when the old man spoke up about what he believed. Everybody opened their flapping yaps and made the mumbledy-mumbledy sound until they drowned out the old man.

Well, that old man thought better of it, so he shut up his ancient mouth and went back to just thinking and smoking and scratching. Everybody walked away, confident that they had convinced him to shut his mouth and change his mind. They were relieved that his ways of thinking had obviously been changed, and they believed that now he was convinced that his ideas were part of “a discussion we probably shouldn't have.” Everyone was quite happy.

The old man sat on the hill and looked to the place where that other fellow had been silenced. Someone else who said things that no one wanted to hear just then.

Hell. Just then or ever, you might say.

So they shut that other fellow up as well, but the old man sat on the hill (not far from where they silenced the other fellow) and he smoked and scratched and thought. And light poured forth from the little bitty hole on the side of that hill, and as the old man touched the living rock he heard the stones cry out, and he heard a voice that echoed a familiar song.

Smoking and scratching, and thinking eternal thoughts. And soon all that remained were the old man and the rock.

The living rock.

And the rock isn't something you change. The rock changes you.