daily preciousness

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

in my thoughts

You're in my thoughts...

Those words were hand-printed on the card. Below them, drawn in jagged pastel lines, was a seascape. A white lighthouse, stately and sentinel-like before a cornflower blue sky.

Little flowers dot the hills before it. I open the card and I see, scrawled in an unsteady hand, "Linda and family -- Just to let you know you're thought of everyday. You are always in our thoughts. With all our love, Mom & Dad."

There are two small color pictures with the card.

The first is a close-up of two geese. One with an orange beak, one with a gray one, they stand cocky and obtuse, directly into the camera lens. Behind them, a red barn casts an elongated shadow on the gravelly ground below. There's a wood shed with tables made squarely and simply of two-by-four plywood. A blue Cadillac and a purple domestic truck poke their taillights into the frame, like schoolchildren hungry for attention.

The second card is a vibrant scene with rows and rows of plump, ripe pumpkins. Their rough, shiny skins shine in the autumnal sun. Over them, a gray-haired witch is stirring her cauldron. The background hints at a U.S. flag flying above a white barn and a two-story country home. On the back, in the same handwriting, it reads "Danny Stewart's VeG. FaRm on HoulToni Rd." It seems like it is an adult's writing, even though it's malformed and rough.

Is it the writing of an elderly mother with arthritis? Or was it the father, whose hands were so steady with the mud-encrusted tools outside, but never really proved dexterous with the fine movements of the pen? I will never know, so my mind is forced to complete the story...

Linda moved away after marrying Michael. He was a "good man," she had always told her mother. After Michael got a job at the mechanic's shop, he got certified and had dreams of moving to the big city to work. They soon left Gill Gorge Mississippi and went to live near Michael's brother's place. Michael's brother, always the successful one, worked at Quantico in Virginia. Linda left the quiet hills of northern Mississippi for the quiet northern hills of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

And she didn't mind being so far from home. Until the babies came. And kept coming. And continued to pop out of her, like pink and shriveled alien-looking 10-month alarm clock that Michael kept winding the crank for.

By the fifth baby, after Linda had named a baby after all of her uncles and after all of Michael's favorite kin, that was when she'd had enough...

...Enough of the bloat-up, pig-out, look like a swollen eggplant thing.

Linda decided to re-read Jane Eyre, her favorite book from high school.

It felt like a long, sun-filled vacation, reading that book again, even in the cramped apartment on a rainy October afternoon. She got baby food on the last page.

It just sat there, gooey strained carrot on the smooth yellowed pages. It partly covered that line that she liked:

"Firm, faithful, and devoted; full of energy, and zeal, and truth, he labours for his race: he clears their painful way to improvement: he hews down like a giant the prejudices of creed and caste that encumber it." (She could never read that passage without thinking of Michael.)

While no one was looking, she licked it off with her tongue. She marked the dog-eared library copy with a card from home... the card her parents had sent her. It got some carrot on it, too. "Spread around the love," she thought to herself, laughing.

The words "in my thoughts call to mind a wonderful psb single, "Always on my mind/in my house."

It's one of their best.


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