Across the Great Divide
Monday, October 22, 2007

Zoe loved the smell of the orchard – fresh blossomed even on a bad day like today, a grounding day – a burial day - a funeral, putting papa in the earth – and she was chewing her lip and thinking to herself and wondering over the talking of folks and how fire could be friendly – it never felt friendly to be caught in the flames and it sure never helped papa. Looking over at her mother so uprighteous and strong. And it was like she could smell flame now – come down with that long black shuttle… the one that brought papa’s body home with it – stubbing through the atmo and leaving a tarry stain on things – like one of Old Henry’s evil cigars it caught at the throat – caught in the nostrils and made the eyes do things they weren’t s’posed to – like cry a piece.
Looking over at her mother so uprigheous and strong – and doing her daughterly best – her gorram daughterly best (yeah - but let ‘em hear the bad word in the good girl’s mouth – and the devil take ‘em!) to be like her. Didn’t take after her Mama much, folks said – but Zoe knew better. Never would catch Mama mistaking fire for a friend – or taking her eye off a something meant to be watched… and Zoe the same. Even when her eyes were smarting and salty sore, she was using them just fine – scanning the sombre faces of the funeral crowd – whole mess o’ family here – stood looking severe as the mournful fanfare drifted out among the trees. Stood looking severe - but didn’t keep their unruly kids from snivelling out loud, didn’t keep some from running around in play on the sidelines, thought zoe scornfully – yes the whole family had congregated, (and there was a good word!) a sprawling clustered mix of dark coats covering over the brown and the blue. She knew well her Mama’s worry about the reception later – Brown and Blue just weren’t cuttin’ up kindly on each other these days. Took something like a funeral – took something like a death - to bring a family close again.

Not for long, thought Zoe. She could see clear the narrow looks from them that saw the orchard as up for grabs now. Browncoat might have to make a play for Mama herself and marry for it – but the ‘lliance could most likely just tear themselves off a strip and call it commandeering. Buccaneering her Mama woulda said. But Papa had been staunch for the Blue – ‘I’m all for a league of civilised men,” she’d heard him say on many occasions, “but lotsa folks gotta get the civil in ‘em first! Ho ho!” and his big chest would puff up with his satisfied smile and his low, low laughter “Ho ho!”

No puff in that chest anymore… popped it with a medal and the air went right out. “Yes Sir.” Zoe would reply, hands behind her back, standing under the warm gaze of those eyes of his – but feelin’ her Mama at her back making sure her daughter didn’t crack wise or laugh outta turn. Weren’t like her mama never laughed though – oh she could laugh up a storm when she wanted… Zoe wished she’d do it now – a big storm blow the Blue suits, the Black shuttle, the Medals – blow it all back up into space.
She kept herself still. Papa woulda wanted that most like. Maybe. Already she wasn’t sure. Maybe she’d ask Old Henry – cigars or not – she could see him huddled, despite the sun in a great brown coat, (“I’m black enough already – don’t need to wear none”, he had growled at her scowling Mama) a coat as looked older even than him. Yes Sir… maybe Old Henry – looking at her with sharp knowing eyes. Eyes like her mother. Alleyne eyes. Eyes like her own.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007 5:43 AM


AS always...fantastic


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