home sense and the heart: on the passion flower and sounding it out
Our neighbor was my mama’s grandmother, and she sent Erin and me there, to our Mama Lois, and we ran to her house, bare feet slapping, alternating from the scorching black-top road to the thistled grasses lined with saw briar and honeysuckle-twined maypops and bitterweed.
We ran there for Dr. Pepper and Starbursts and wore her girdles, fur hats, gloves, and clip-on rhinestones. We were fancy there, high heeled, and we thought of Elvis in Hawaii. I sounded out romance novels, ears turned hot, the “b” sound – bulge, bosom.
Once, on the way home, I ran onto a tree stump where a green snake flipped in the air. There my heart changed, racing wild, though I knew not to be afraid. Once, on the wall of roses, a blue and red bug bit and shocked my arms numb. No day without a little blood, a little tobacco-spit rubbed into a sting. No day without discovery: a yellow jacket hole, unearthed glass, willowflies heaving in the shape of a barn.
The country taught me to love the pounding, the fear of a spanking, the sound of blood rushing – ears in the bath water, a diesel-engine always backfiring through birdsong, that breathless second just before breaking the short side off the wishbone.
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