Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

i got water in my ears.

the tractor, in fourth gear, pushes steadily down the row. the tines dig deep the soil. churn thistles and quack grass and mustard into a sloppy pigtailed mess behind me. i get lazy, let the steering wheel pull me down and my right tine catches hold a fifteen year-old vine. a madeleine angevine. cuts her deep and sinks the front wheels. i hit the brake, the back left, and the tractor digs in deep. mangles the plant. no chance for repair and the tractor is stuck. the sun hangs low and the sky's blood red.
I kill the engine and hop free of that little green bull.
the fields are bare; the grass, long ago cut, long ago baled, and i walk through and kick holes for lazy snakes. my arms are dark with dust. my face too. i kick through that grass and my eyes, they itch, my nose stuffs up, and CHUU! i sneeze a healthy portion of dirt.

i hop in my dodge reliant, an upscale K car, the Woody Wagon we call her for her piney sides. the car of summer. drive her to the dock at Odlin park. as i make the turn, a fat man in a white tee-shirt stained yellow motions for me to slow down.
i cut the engine halfway down the hill, take her out of gear like dad taught me. tuck in to the boat launch, walk the sandy trail to the dock out there. my deckshoes hit the aluminum gangplank and seagulls squawk and wings beat the water and then i'm alone. just the sun on the water, the ache of the dock, and a boat out there, past the glare.
pull my tee-shirt over my head. kick off my shoes. arms hang at my sides, i stare hard at the green. i wonder for the cold, but i know it. that little breeze over the water will, in an hour, drag out the fog and wrap up the dock and stuff the inlet like so many cotton balls.
i dive forward and the wind's kicked out of me before i hit the water.
as i drip back to the Woody, an old man with a dull squint and cokebottle glasses asks me,
'how you doin?'
my shoes squeak from the wet of my feet.
'like a shot of caffeine,' i tell him.
and i drive back for (another) dinner party.

i play badminton drunk as my mom sets the table. set the table for eighteen, she did. three picnic benches, as i swat! then backhand! then swat! then tumble! my glass upturned, wine spilt across my wrist, across my woolen jacket.
i lick it up.

dinner for eighteen: the old woman, age undisclosed, sits at the end of the table facing the sun. but she's half-blind and my mother's stuffed her very own hat down over the poor woman's eyes, a full remove from our drunken bloated faces.

at the other end, the principal of the local school, his resolute mustache, his symmetrical head, his burning blue eyes.
the twins to his right, (he) the soccer player who bests my footwork with one eye closed, one hand tied, (she) the island-reknown chef, big round eyes lapped with the blackest mascara.
her beau, his father and mother: drunk.
the principal's wife, forgotten already.
the twins' parents.
my parents.
my little sister and her friends, also twins, but much younger, much brattier and far more sunburnt.

in sum: eclectic, you might say. bound by the size of the island, you might say. marooned, you might say.

but, the food:
*potato salad,
*dos equiis dos equiis dos equiis,
*green salad, and
*two glasses of siegerrebe (a french guwurztraminer).

another round of badminton scored in gut ugly german, then turns on the ice-cream maker. crank away, boys, crank away. spooned it out, creamy and mild. took a peach off the tree, cut the pit free, push the sweet meat deep in that foamy heart-dart. there.
there it is. country livin.