It happened in a bone-dust, dry August, in the year of our Lord, 2020; that a secret was to be given in trust. A secret upon receiving that would come with a burdensome price.
I will never forget this particular August; it crept upon us like a veiled shadow on the perimeter of the sun’s last rays. The summer felt toilsome and arcane. It is as if I had been holding my breath, silently; afraid I would not hear the story that was written for me.
It seemed like time had grown weary of counting the moments for us. The out-of-sync tics, sound lost within a vacuum of time, upon our deafening silent town; that forgot how to listen.
Milkweed and Cottonwood seed are suspended upon the aether; a floating drift, glowing like snow in the late afternoon sun.
My bare feet touch the cool, dirt path through the old canopy of ash and elm trees that loom over the dank ravine. Leading me out and away from our forgotten, Southern town.
I wear a gift, my Mother Dabria, left for me; a long cotton dress; it trails behind me stirring the dry leaves, like cracking whispers.
I have worn this path down through the seasons; so many moments gathered, like the wild plants and flowers for my remedies; the careful placing of memories stored tight and gently pressed, the way one puts precious things in a box.
I see crows gathering in numbers, like a secret coven, flying in swift over the rustling corn stalks; in the fields upon the path’s end.
I step out from the forested path, as I gaze out beyond the shadows before me. The silver light of dusk, shimmers upon the air making the abandoned, clapboard house seem like a distant mirage; blurred and dreamy, like a child’s watercolor painting.
I have been coming here since I was a child. My Daddy hunted on this land, like his Father Rainer before him. My Grandmother, Orenda Rose, taught me the ways of healing potions and elixirs. Teaching me how to collect and dry, in their seasons Yarrow, Wolf bane, Samphire, Queen Anne’s Lace, Blackthorn, Gentian and so many roots and berries.
We would hang the thickets on black chain, iron hooks to gently sway with the autumn breeze in the dry cellar with fat jars of minced meat and bottles of apple shine.
I am here alone; only these memories fill the space where the silent moments dwell; or so I thought.
I have not been to the old house since last winter, when I stocked the cellar with roots and preserves.
I step onto the weathered porch. The sound of the swings rusting chains, move, as if someone has just left it, moments ago. I notice the wooden door is ajar. As I walk over the threshold, the light of dusk, casts its glow around the still objects that remain.
I see the staircase in front of me. Time’s fingerprint has silvered and scalloped the worn places on the steps. For years, I watched my Father climb these steps at night; his pipe smoke trailing behind him, leaving a thin fog. I am mesmerized as I watched the smoke descend, dimly aglow, taking shapes of a spirited presence, moving to a slow lullaby.
The memories of my time feel powerful here; a heaviness that clutches at the silence, before you notice the empty sound retreating into the vastness…
(c) 2020 Duskflyer Vision Art & Productions
Author ~ Tommie Flannery Baskis