Don't Grow Pale

January 19, 2011
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A drop in the bucket is a pebble on the ground. The rusted out, blood-scented bucket is no good to anyone or anything. All it does is take up precious space in my field. It’s laughing at my idiocy in being unable to locate where that piece of junk is. I swear if I find that stupid piece of rusted metal I’ll kick the shit out of it and stomp it into the ground where it belongs. It needs to be taught a lesson and learn some respect.

Good, I found it. Now it can stop pretending it is good at hiding from me. It’s not good at anything. I don’t even know why it tries. I throw it into the lake for a slow drowning. Watching the bubbles rise one by one and seeing the ripple created by the pale being heaved into the chilled water brings me contentment. Right before it sinks to the bottom in defeat, I snatch it back out and launch it in the direction of the hay barn. It makes a ting sound as the corner of the metal slams against the ground, throwing small pieces of flaked paint a strew. I walk over to it and lean to pick it up, but then I realize that it would be demoralitizing towards me for such clean hands to touch such a vile object.

I kick it with my thick leather work boot all the way into the barn. It comes to a halt at my feet, and I throw it into the thick, nappy, itchy hay. The hay clings to this thing, this bucket thing, and while it is sitting there wishing it had never been found, wishing it hadn’t have rusted a hole in the bottom that let the pebble, that oh-so-precious pebble, touch the oh-so-unholy ground. It must be chastened for its wrong doings, must learn that it’s a no-good space waster and should just rust into obliviation. But since it’s still here, I’ll just have to deal with it as I see fit.

This means being ripped from the hay, which was probably starting to feel comforting, by its half-connected handle and hurled in the direction of the old farm house I used to enjoy coming home to. It bounced twice and then rolled to a halt upon its side. The metal looks as if it is screaming for reprieve. The dents I see in the bucket made me angry. They made me think it was a wimp and couldn’t take what I could dish out. They just further deepened my point, to me, about how I loathe this pale.

I snatched it up under one arm and stomped into the house, the screen door slamming behind me, welcoming me home. I walked across the creaky old floor boards to the kitchen and put on a teapot to boil some water. This nasty thing needs to be sanitized and purified from its sins, if it is going to be in my home.

When the teapot started whistling at me, I dropped the bucket with a clatter in the metal kitchen sink, and went over to remove the water from its turmoil. I walked back over to the sink and slowly drizzled the scorching water over the tattered bucket.

As steam began to rise, slow rivers of dirt filled water slowly snaked their way down its side. At last, it was coming to its senses. When the water was dripping out empty and the pail’s temperature had risen hot to the touch I ran cold water over the pail. The abrupt temperature change immediately distorted the metal creating lumps in the once even surface. I let it sit there a minute to let it ingest what had just happened; to burn this event into its memory. Satisfied I dried it off in our nicest white towels and set it gingerly on the embroidered table cloth on my kitchen table. My wife had made that with such joy and compassion. It was her love.

I went to the shed out back to get some pliers to fix its broken handle. I also brought in some paint to give it a fresh coat to hide its imperfectness; and fitted it with a liner to prevent the sight of the hole. Now I though, that’s what a bucket should look like, as I smiled to myself for making a difference finally.

I feel like this is what goes through my father’s mind every time this happens to me. I don’t believe he is entirely crazy, but he is full of pain and I am his relief. I am also his reminder. After momma died, the wind blew south ward, which threw off our whole pattern of life.





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