October 15, 2018

The Cradle

Anna Atkins, Asplenium radicans (Jamaica), ca. 1850

Anna Atkins, Asplenium radicans (Jamaica), ca. 1850

In July, just before the beginning of hurricane season, Open Space managing editor Gordon Faylor approached me about contributing to the platform’s Microclimates issue. The following pieces of media — sound and text — were each composed weeks before the emergence of the storm system that eventually became the 500-mile-wide Hurricane Florence. Florence ravaged the East Coast and produced particular calamity in the Carolinas, flooding the same Cape Fear river waterways referenced in The Cradle. —BCSS


Greens, green-browns, and more greens tickle the sides of my legs and make the webs of my feet itch whilst rich, violet mists are thrown aglow from even more violet waters in the fresh of morning. I get lost in the bright glow, and sometimes see only ridging backs of fish rise from the slime of the lake around the nearest parts of me. And I can always see the ripples from my own kicking feet. I look down and see plum — my own reflection — my orange bill looking a green sick as syrup from snow cones soaked into the crusts of bread which made my meal the day before, greener than grass, the glint of my eyes hurting themselves with nothing plastic at all about them in the least.

There’s a walking bridge I can see from the second floor of the library downtown which brings the brutal edging of the concrete parking lot into the easy green of a small park that plays home to a creek, a creek that I think you can see from the walking bridge. Don’t quote me, because I’ve never actually been down there! I just know what I see.

Anyways, I think concrete is so sensitive. It’s starting now to rain, and each individual drop I can see wet the ground, here from two floors up, here, from inside the library. The rain has got to be warm. I know it. The concrete goes so quickly from freckles to dark, moist coal. Thunder disturbs the thickness of the air, and even inside, with AC, it’s a little easier to breathe.

A faint voice calls from the other side of the library. I hustle over, and quick, to make a left turn into the deep cold of a glassed-in room filled with hundreds upon hundreds of brown, translucent film rolls.

An hour later —
I’m fifteen,
I’m twenty,
I’m seventeen,
and I’m ten, rolling down the cracked pavement of Highway 301, and onto Interstate 95 proper.

This road is home to me.

We’d taken it through tobacco fields, through Virginia fog, up past the Mason-Dixon, and then in through the smogs of Jersey many times, long before I was born, my Grandma says to me over a sweet tea. Money from up north goes a long way down here.

But in my lifetime, when storms have come, we’ve hunkered down and not left, never knowing quite what to wear, witness to the thick balm of the Cape Fear — a river saturated in bitterness. We never really know how to show up for it: not its heat nor its coolness. Perennially estranged. So in the hands of a good God, we are like seeds.

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