16 November 2008

the brass plate and a drum memorial

Outside the old 4H building the farm equipment is slowly sinking like dinosaur skeletons into tarpits. Even with their flat tires and diesel engines heaving towards the ground they are still things that look hungry and howl as the north wind blasts through their gears and scythes carrying their cold metal in its teeth. the wind breathes up dirt and almost-snow to blow it through the long pens to bite the livestock...

but now there aint even a hoofprint to be seen; the sheep long since been sold
and the cows don't give milk no more for the arthritic hands of gnarled farmers who are themselves fossilizing under their quilts back in the hills somewhere. theres no Now here. Shit, even the brass name plates up front havent been updated since EDNA SOMMERS 1988.

however. tonight the lights are all on, and you step inside the 4H hall and it's more people even then youd see at the twice-weekly AA meetings, more people since the last great farm wife gave up the ghost and gingerbread squaredances some time back.

The big room is warm and packed and it smells like stew and wet winter jackets. There's frybread going and women four times my age are sitting in metal fold-up chairs, telling jokes in Dakota, and laughing rusty laughs.

Their many dozen greatgrandchildren are dancing around to the drum in the corner which is beating so deep the linoleum is shaking. The younger kids have started their own ritual of knocking over sodas, getting more cake, repeat.

Then suddenly the drum stops, the room falls silent and draws in a breath.
those up front start this low song that builds and charges the air with all the aching heaviness of the time we have that never stops moving even as our tongues fall away,this thing that keeps walking past all this taken land to leave everyone eventually.

No comments: