The land was scarred, forever scarred. The rain did not have the force to even touch the dry and barren earth. It was there, on that godforsaken land that my father built our house. It was the most lovely of houses in my mind. A small dwelling with a thin shingle roof and two rooms. One was the kitchen, the other the bedrooms. It was divided into sections, so that everyone had some sort of privacy. If you count paper thin t-shirts as privacy. I remember watching my father cry when the crop failed. And that man never shed a tear for nobody, but when his family couldn’t eat back in ’31 he cried. And oh man did he weep for days. I stayed silent, because if you annoyed my father when he was crying like that.. well your smart little behind would get whipped faster than the speed of light. So I kept my mouth shut. And helped my mother. She was a city girl from New York and had spent her younger days in the factories. Knew what it was to have nothing but there was always opportunity for her. My daddy was the most dashing bachelor then, I’m sure. Or at least that’s what my mother told me hundreds of times. He came to the city looking for work and found my mama. She was 19 at the time and her mother and father were long gone. They had left their little girl and sent money, but it was hardly enough to keep her alive some years. One day when they came looking for her she had left a note on the pair of lady’s bloomers she used as a door when she had to use the wooden one for firewood. Her youthful beauty soon faded, and her rosy cheeks turned gray like the land. My fathers eyes, once the color of the sky turned a sorrowful grey themselves. The color was gone from both their eyes, and their skin. All they got when I was growing up was a mighty good sunburn or two. Never again the color of happiness. And I remember when my father was going to give up, go to California because some silly man in a suit had given him a handbill and told him good luck you sorry Okie. He had hope in his heart, but lacked the common sense of a fly. On that trip to California, he drank too much one day. My mother broke into hysterics, and I their only child sat in the back of our rickety old car in my ratty dress with no shoes and didn’t utter a sound. Mama thought I was being mute, and shook me a few times but I didn’t know what to say. She sat in that car, and sulked like a child. She hated being the wife of a farmer, she hated being poor, and most of all she hated that her little girl would grow up to be just like her, a worthless Okie. It was then that the grey in my fathers eyes turned from their usual color to almost black. Almost like a storm cloud. He slapped my mother and told her to shut up and if she didn’t he was gonna shut her up. Bottle of beer in hand, he walked off into the blazing summer sun. I never saw my father again. He seemed to tip off the horizon and never came back. My mother and I found the nearest Hooverville and to this day I do not know how the hell we did it. We lived there till the depression was over, and my mama found a job. She remarried, but I don’t remember his name. He was absent in my life and we went up a few social classes because he basically took my mother as a charity case. She became a classy, fake woman and the courage that I once saw in her was never again present. Her eyes went from grey to a muddle of colors. Kinda like puce green or something. And I went to school, a strange place for a once poor girl. My mother never mentioned my daddy again. He was a dead man to her, though he was the father of her first child. Many years later I found that he had ended up in jail for multiple charges and died in prison. I can only write this from heaven because people don’t judge you in heaven. Its quite here, and I like it. I passed away at 94 years old. I lead a better life than my parents I suppose but my life in heaven has just begun. The land will always be a part of me I think as long as I’m here. My daddy is gone, my mother is gone. I was their only child and I did not lead a very honorable life. And yet here I am, somewhere in heaven.
Somewhere in Heaven
April 6, 2012