Today, I’m linking up with the voice of southern exposure, Amber Haines for her Concrete to Abstraction series. My friend, Ashley Markin is hosting today in Amber’s absence. The piece she offers is pristinely powerful. Read it. This is not the me I usually traipse about as here. These girls push me to reveal one of my more interesting, if not beautiful, personas.
“Chain” – I see the semi-rectangular links that held my swing at Nana’s under me and to the strong, iron cross-bar. Great heavy links which my Daddy used to pull down oaks follow. I see the charm bracelets which anyone who had the word mama in a name I called wore about their wrist. And then they are the hanging baskets suspended by a bit of chain in our backyard. Chain was not a dark or dreary word in my vocabulary. Chains held and did good work. Until…
Now the word makes me think of a song, a band whose rise to destruction also began by their testimony, in Birmingham. Now, the word “chain” gives rise in me to Stevie’s tortured vocals and Lindsay’s torturing ones. Now it’s all I hear, think about at the word.
I am secured to this place with chains of DNA and debts yet paid and some other oil and exhaust covered thing that feels the way my Daddy’s heavy pulls looked, but I never noticed, as they brought me near to him and warmth into my home. Here it leaves me cold and marred and broken by its weight, though the soul separating power no longer employs it to stretch my frame in twain.
We hammer steel here, no longer under big smokestacks, but in small artisan studios. The big dangers like the old gargantuan iron workings of Birmingham have largely moved abroad to torture elsewhere: racism and class warfare. But, tiny cauldrons still fume and ours was one of them.
The church we so very hesitantly planted was supposed to be a small work of grace. I know now it was neither in his mind – ever. It was to his thinking all his and nothing if it did not grow large and powerful and connected to everyone else so. Our leader was family, by marriage, and he was nearly my death, if not all of ours. I worked for him, wrote some of his stuff. I thought I liked those handling the oversight of our work. Until they didn’t.
It was a classic case of egomania which moved on to more…a deadly infection which cost him his life and all of us everything but ours. It’s been a long time; he has long been as cold in the ground as that chain.
But, when you learn to shoulder such a weight and know its oily feel upon your skin that stains into the mind’s every crevice and all cracking places of your soul… When the smell of such is no secret but a like sentry sound, it is easy to know a brother, another so inclined. Just such and I have recently locked eyes. And I am wondering is freedom mine to force anew?