Friday, December 9, 2011

These Green Scrubby Woods

These Green Scrubby Woods
Skadi meic Beorh

It is so quiet back here in these green scrubby woods. I like to touch the rough scrub oaks and talk to them and tell them how pretty they is to me. There is tall pine trees back in here too, and old oak trees which is very tall and thick and much palmettos and long green grass with brown ticks hanging on the ends waving around and just waiting to pounce on you and drink your blood and get big and fat and very hard to pull out of your skin. It is best to get them out as soon as they light on you, or else they is very hard to get rid of, and sometimes all of their body does not come out, and that is when you can get very sick. Brown recluse spiders can make you very sick too, but they is my friends, and so they never bite me. But my friend wast bit one day three times right down his backbone, and he could not walk for almost three months after that.

It smells wild and wet out here in these dark woods. I can taste all the smells out here. Some do not taste good. When cottonmouth moccasins is around, it smells sour out here, like old sour rags. And you know then to get away fast, because it is their house you is near, and they might have babies there, and when they bite you they do not just bite one time, but they bite until you is dead. It sometimes smells sweet out here, but that is always right before it rains, which is everyday in the summertime. Sometimes there is bitter in the air because of I do not know what, and in the winter there is fresh blood. The best time of the year out here is the wintertime when things is much cooler and it is easier to breathe the air. The air is not so much filled up with water in the cold months.

There is tiny little hills dotted here and there out here. They is overgrown burial mounds set way back here in these woods. It is the way the Old People buried their kin. They is mounds coming up out of flat ground like giant heads looking blind at you yet right down inside your body that is shaking and scared, but only sometimes, like right when the sun is going down, and only on some nights of the year. Not all nights. Just the haunted nights. After the sun is gone for the night, though, things go quiet and you is not afraid anymore. Especially when you hear the happy chirping crickets and the goodhearted bullfrogs. And then there is owls which make you feel safe when they cry out with their hooting.

It has been lots of years since the Old People walked on this land, but piles of oyster shells from their meetings still lay here and there like they wast shucked just yesterday. Nobody has ever bothered them too much. No reason to, really. There they lay in the sand by the trail, and you can kick them if you have a mind to and have shoes on, and they will move, just like they wast dropped there yesterday. It is strange to me, and kind of wonderful. I can hear them whisper sometimes, the Old People. They tell me things. How to hunt quiet like, and how to talk to strangers so the strangers will be friendly and not hurt the land. There is not many strangers who come out here anymore, though.

I need blood to live, I know, but I will not hurt anything and not eat it. That is not the way of the Old People, and they whisper to me and they tell me to be quiet in my heart and to be good to everybody I should ever meet.

I cannot read nor write. My friend Annie is writing this down and I told to her to write it down just like I say it, so she is. I trust her. She smiled at me just now, and her sweet lips came apart like she wanted to say something to me, and then I saw two tears roll down her cheek. Now she put her pencil down and walked away from me real slow. I like how her white sundress sways in the cool breeze that is blowing right now. I like how her calf muscles get tight and loose and tight and loose when she walks. She has pretty legs and pretty little feet.

It will be a month yet until dead winter. Annie is still barefoot, so it is not that cold out yet. I am barefoot too, and I have my nicest dress on today. It is a white frilly cotton dress, and I have a chain of wild roses in my hair like a crown. Annie made it for me. I tell her to come back and do not cry, and I say I have to remember all her moves and things she does to get them right when she does come back to start writing again, so I can tell her everything to say. She is my best friend. She talks Spanish, like the people who brought the wild pigs here to these woods. They still live here. The pigs, I mean. Well, the Spanish people do too, but they live in town, not out here. They is mixed in with some Greek people what came to these parts as slaves from farther down south of here.

I live like a pirate, I reckon. I have a little house by the water that wast built by hunters who do not come here anymore since they changed the road a while back and it is so hard to get back through here now. There is many spiders of all kinds in these woods, but I am never afraid of them. They know that I like them, and so they make pretty patterns for me to see when I wake up in the mornings and the sun is shining down through the trees. Their webs is the most beautiful things to me, like stopped icy light circling around and around and around. Nothing I could ever do if I had spider string to make things with. I would not even try. They do not seem to mind at all when I have to walk down a path and they have built a web across the path and I have to break it with a long twig going in front of me so I will not get their spider string all over me and in my hair. They know that I like them, and that if I could go around them, I would. But if I do, then I will get filled up with ticks that carry disease, and maybe they know that, so they do not mind me tearing up their houses when I have to do that. Mosquitoes do not bother me ever. I ask them to leave me alone when they come buzzing around, and they leave, just like that. They is friendly little creatures when you get to know them. They like blood. But few people do not.

In the summertime the boars have sores on them all over, and you cannot eat them. But when the weather cools off and is crisp, you can kill them and eat them, and they is good meat to eat. I use a bow that I made to kill them, and I find stone arrowheads all over the ground from where the Old People left them and also when I plow up the ground for my gardens that I have dotted around here and there. As a special thing all my own I rub my arrow shafts with oil from the side of my nose. It is astonishing how much oil comes out of the side of the nose of people. I dye my shafts with blueberry, blackberry, and dewberry juice. I fletch with blue jay feathers, and sometimes raven. I make hogshead cheese from all the head meat and black pepper and some red pepper but not too much, and I boil their feet with only salt and black pepper and eat them by themselves. They is very good. I like the whole animal to eat, and I make sausage and ham and roast and chops and bacon. Much bacon. And I cure with salt what I do not smoke over a open fire like we people have always done it here. We put catfish and mullet up there on the smoking-rack too, and coyote and alligator and rattlesnake and ducks and other wild birds which is good to eat. The alligators is hardest to catch, but worth the trouble.

I run all through these woods. Annie races me sometimes, and sometimes she wins.

I made a mistake with one of the big wild boars.

I know only four words in Spanish. Annie taught them to me. They is El Muerto Tiene Vida. They mean The Dead Have Life. I love these words. They make me feel happy.

Annie is crying again. Now she is laying down her pencil again. She has climbed down in with me now and kissed me and closed my eyes, and she has put a beautiful winter rose in my hands. Now she has climbed back out. And now the first dirt has come down upon me, and now more and more.

I am covered with sand now all except my face, and Annie is crying so hard now she cannot see good, and she does not want to cover over my face, but she really has to do that.

* * * *

It is dark now and I am sleepy, but I hear Annie crying very hard and I wish I could hold her but I cannot. I cannot see if she is still writing or not. I could not see after she closed my eyes. Now she is singing a song, and I hear her hands beating on the ground. She is beating the ground very hard and she is singing a song that does not sound like English and it does not sound like Spanish and it does not sound the way the Old People sound when they sing to me. Maybe it is a song of her Gypsy people. I think maybe it is.

There is a road in front of me. I can see again. I do not know this road. I will walk on this road for a little while. I would like to see where it goes to. Maybe there is somebody on it who will tell me a good story. I like good stories. I have always liked good stories.

I do not want a wooden cross. Just wildflowers is all.

Skadi meic Beorh is also the author of the horror/redemption novella The Highwayman's Tale (27th Dimension) and the poetic study Golgotha (Punkin House). His writing, often found in anthologies and magazines worldwide, will be showcased shortly in Scarlet Literary Magazine and Wherever It Pleases. Some of his favorite writers are W. B. Yeats, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, George Mackay Brown, T. S. Eliot, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. He lives on the Atlantic Coast with his loving wife Ember.