Friday, April 14, 2006

Poetry Friday -- the word is HIDDEN

We're trying something new here. A word to inspire, to provoke, to love or hate. This is an open call, feel free to post something of your own design around the word. It need not be poetry. (Mine turned out to be more of a short with no Hollywood ending. And in case you're wondering, it is NOT autobiographical, although my parents do have a snowball bush I used to hide in as a child.)


The glass was where she’d left it, wedged in a branch of the snowball bush, right beside the cutting rock Kenny had found two summers ago.

Morgan picked her green triangle of glass from the scarred gash of the limb. She rubbed it between her fingers and lowered her bottom to the dirt circle in the middle of the gigantic bush. Through the branches, she could see polka dots of white clouds floating between the oval leaves. Her head hurt, and her lungs ached from sobbing.

(so cool the glass so cool and smooth, it feels like love, wine at communion, love, green bottle love)

Kenny’s glass lay atop the cutting rock. Big as a biscuit, it was milky-white with small blue flowers. He’d picked up the piece after his dad threw the contents of the china cabinet at his mother that day she made the bacon too crispy. Kenny had held it throughout the day, even after the police came and took the gun away, and took his mother away, “Just to talk, honey”, she’d said. Even after the ambulance siren faded in the distance, carrying the bits of body that were once held together with skin and called “dad”. Even after Granny came and held him, cried into his hair, took him to her house to bandage the gash, took him to her house to live, and wait, until his mother came to take him home, a new home, with no fist holes in the walls, no shouting, no slapping at his bare bottom with leather belts and fireplace implements.

Morgan lived with Granny and Kenny that one summer, while Morgan’s parents missionaried in South America and Kenny’s mom got ‘talked to’ and ‘re-bil-tated’. Before she got better and tucked Kenny into a new bed in a new house in a new quieter life. Morgan remembered how dog-like Kenny had been after his dad was gone. How eager he was to follow her, to play and fetch and curl at her feet. She tried not to take advantage of this new good-natured Kenny, but she found it irresistible to command him. ”Pee on that tree!”, she’d squeal, and Kenny would unzip his Levis and piss on the maple, circling it like an artist chipping at marble, intent, artful. “Play dead!”, and Kenny would fall onto his back, fingers like twisted claws, mouth agape, tongue rolling lush and wet from his mouth.

The blood started coming from Morgan’s fingertips at the unconscious digging of the glass. It sliced through the old scars on her three middle fingers. The thumb and pinkie too, she thought, and dug the edge of the glass in. A squeeze of the fingers and blood dripped onto the cutting rock.

(like water, like the river, washing all the sin away, so clean and pure)

The snowball bush that Morgan hid within had been planted by Grampee when he married Granny. Every spring, the bush would bear flower clusters big as softballs, cool and white and delicate. Grampee would take Granny to the bush on their wedding anniversary each year and kiss her long and hard, like he was eating her mouth, while the family stood nearby and clapped and exhaled with ‘Awww!’

Granny was the one who told Morgan about the hiding place. During “The Summer of No Parents”, Morgan followed Granny to the corner of the backyard, on the hill overlooking the river, to the cool green corner of nowhere, to the anniversary snowball bush. Granny parted two of the tallest limbs, nodded at Morgan, and stepped inside. Morgan followed. Granny kneeled in the middle, grinning through errant teeth, and beckoned Morgan to sit beside her. From inside the thick limbs of the bush, they heard the pitched songs of birds, the mumble of swelling river water, bees dive-bombing honeysuckle. It smelled of summer and mud. The dappled sunlight played on their arms and cooled the hot day. “This is your treasure”, Granny would tell Morgan. “When you feel sad, you come inside here and let all that sadness out! Just dig it out and you’ll find great surprises!”

The cutting started accidentally. A bottle of redpop, broken inside the bush while she was hiding from Kenny, the pool of red in her hand, the amazement of her own body. When the letters from her parents suggested more time at Granny’s, when they signed off with ‘Jesus loves you’ and no mention of their love, when Granny insisted on clean plates and straight garden rows and nightly prayers, Morgan would cut. Just a small slice, only the hands, not like Uncle Jimmy who’d done the wrists and bled to death on Granny’s good lace tablecloth. Morgan used the green glass triangle she’d found by the burn barrel. It had a good sharp edge and smelled of grapes and old vomit. By pressing a leaf from the bush into a cut, she could stop the bleeding in under a minute.

(my treasure, let it fall out, sad so sad, out out)

Kenny found the cutting rock by the river. He was carrying it up the hill to Granny’s back yard when he heard Morgan sneeze from inside the bush. She didn’t want him to find her like that, six fingers dripping the sorrow out, her cheeks covered in a film of dirt, two tracks of clean where the tears had finally come. Kenny pushed his way inside the bush and lay the rock in front of Morgan. He stared at her fingers, and then gently lay his hands on hers. “S’all right”, he cooed at her. “I seen blood before, doncha worry ‘bout it.” From his pocket, Kenny pulled a blue bandana and unfolded it to reveal his own piece of broken glass. He looked at Morgan and pressed the jagged edge to his palm. A thin red ribbon appeared, and Kenny, oh, Kenny smiled at Morgan, as drop and as drop fell onto the flat gray rock he’d found. Morgan reached for his hand, pressing into hers hard, and watched the blood drip, drip onto the stone.

Granny was put in the ground today, in the cemetery north of town, beside Grampee. The family was inside the house now in a post-dinner reverie, the aunts crashing dishes about, the uncles boasting and joking, baby Luke squealing, Kenny giggling. Morgan’s parents had brought their boring slides of Brazil, and their preachy voices carried out and over the garage. Morgan knew the house would be sold. The snowball bush would no longer be her sanctuary.

(this is my blood which is shed for you for your sin, this is your treasure, treasure)

Morgan sat in the dirt and pressed sweet leaves into the cuts. The bush was too green, too tired, she thought, and she could smell school in the rustling of the branches. Idly, she picked up Kenny’s white and blue biscuit glass and started cutting her name into the wet soil. Em…Oh…Are…Gee…


Morgan rubbed the glass over the catch, a stone of some kind, to loosen it. The stone was flat on one side, with a small bump in the center. Morgan brushed the cool earth away, and found the stone to be a button, a coat button, gold and heavy, with an eagle pressed into it. Did this belong to Grampee? She dug some more, near the cutting rock, scraping back and forth.

Another stone, this one a ring, thin gold wrapped with small gold leaves.

Scrape, scrape.

Another stone, this time a small spoon, but the spoon had teeth and the handle was stamped with writing she couldn’t understand.

Morgan picked up the cutting rock and used the sharpest edge to dig, deeper, deeper, frantically, inside the bush. There was no time to be gentle. No time.

(treasure, dig it out, treasure treasure)

The river burbled.

The cardinals and sparrows fought over mulberries.

The red ground yielded, and Morgan turned over chunks of earth, cool, dark and wet, her treasure treasure.


At 10:56 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

Wow. That was fantastic. You could make this into a novel.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

jo(e): I've never thought novel-writing was my forte, but with all the story lines that kept popping in my head, I may explore that. (I've finally learned to cut out the "and" strings I use so much. Woohoo!)


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