We set out under quiet clouds, the rain light – gentle, a sacred circuit before us. We drove the carless roads, not alone. And all seemed slow and sweet and suspended. We moved down the mountain and worshipped awhile before the ancient and true…watching fins swim and whispering of earlier walks aside the water.
Littles climbed and squealed on rails while mammas held shirts fast, as our mammas had held ours, and we our children’s. This secret space we had found separately spread out before us, its stump buildings and signs government green, the most comforting color. It meant my Daddy was home, with me.
I stared at that space my little eyes had longed for, my older eyes still held as dear, and wondered that my friend, who never knew me little, had come to love this nearly unnamed place, 100 miles away, as well.
We turned south and rolled toward banks which built me, formed much of what named me, proper. The White house, not Little, or so colored, sat abreast the property. No one ruled from it, but its place was surely preeminent. I searched the gray ground for things I had unknowingly offered to St. Augustine and for my lure that fell into the concrete cracked across the spillway. I saw no mark of me, for the million miles I walked round and round, my rod in my hand. All left now were the memories I had sloughed off, like sunburned skin, hoping in vain, for no scarring.
As we started to leave, I saw my baby sister rubbing enchanting chub fingers over her “hand warmers.” We collected hundreds but forgot most of the smooth, pocket-sized alluvial stones. I leapt from the car to where she often sat gathering, and I stood scattering them against the smooth surface of our shallow pond. I bent down and put one in my pocket. I would not leave this one behind.
We turned west past all that had been my Pop’s land, the railway now a road-race practice place, and the neighborhood of my friend Stacey, whose pre-wedding antics still bring us great glee.
One more turn and we were headed back north to our temporary tabernacle. On my right lay the low smooth rocks and fat leeches of Flat Rock Park, where we played with underwear-only clad little crackers like us. We drove on, willing the wheels slower and slower, Quiet our companion. As we climbed, the music of our journey, seemingly made before the foundation…, softly speaking all into being, played soft. I reminded her of a drive we took, twenty-five years ago…and of songs she sang for me.
I could not stop the sun, I would have stilled it in such a moment forever…left my portion of more willingly. We sat silent as the engine ran against the now breaking sun, listening to music that sang my sufferings. She listened hard as the beauty blended with imagery of binds and blood. My shoulders and heart open to her…my tears sliding free, I let her look on, catch and chronicle each one.
The circle we traveled was like so many circles that had come to be in our lives. How many times had we returned to just where we started, the same and not so. All good stories circle back on themselves…