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Monday, June 4, 2012

The Back Wood Road



The heat is rising from the road in thick curtains of steam
Radiating from the back of my sticky neck pouring sweat
Spilling onto my seersucker shirt as I walk slowly down
The back wood road that leads to the old man’s pond
Snapping the bubbles of hot tar beneath my sneakers
It’s well worth the lump in my throat and prickles on my skin
As I contemplate that man without legs who grows the popcorn
That man I fear who lost his legs in the Korean War
I am certain one could cook a full meal on this hot pavement
As I consider the coolness in the middle of that deep pond
The pond that contains so many things that frighten me
Betwixt the cattails the refuse of ducks and all that slithers
And so I divert my attention to those glorious tar bubbles
Those bubbles that will leave remnants of jet black goo
Tar that will lead me into the realms of my Nannie’s rage
And so I face the depths of the pond and of her anger
Snap snap snap
Oh damn the fury of the summer sun that takes away all logic
Here I stand with spindly legs and skinned knees before the man
Oh that man upon his crutches who ventured out his screen door
The man who lost both of his legs in that god forsaken war
Staring down at little me wondering why the hell I’m here
And so I brave the muck and mire at the edge of that old pond
I jump as far as I can jump and oh what I land in is so disgusting
With breath held tight I swim and swim until at last I’ve ventured
Beyond the muck where all is clear and cool far out into the center
Who cares if I feel something wriggling up my little nose
Who minds if I feel something nibbling on my tiny toes
They couldn’t be as large as me I kick and scream and giggle
Yet the fear of that bottomless pit is in the back of my mind
Who would find me and who on earth would come to my rescue
After all I was over a mile away from the nearest farmhouse
And how on earth would a legless man ever pull me from here
I had a time getting into the center of the pond behind nowhere
The sun was sinking low in the sky and after I’d climbed out
The old man met me near his field of popcorn with a bag in his hand
I was so frightened to take it as he offered it for Nannie and I
Perhaps she’d accept it as a peace offering with regard to my shoes
Oh good the tar bubbles are still hot on the road to Grandmother’s
Snap snap snap
I love tar bubbles
Break out the turpentine
By the time I’m halfway home I’m just as hot as I was when I began
And the hot tar snaps beneath my feet
Almost there
Snap snap snap

©Kay Salady

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