Friday, December 09, 2005
Thank You Jesus!
The man went hunting today. He's been hunting most every day but hasn't stayed gone long enough for me have breathing room before he's back again and in the way. Today he went to Snow Lake.
There's no place in the whole wide world like Snow Lake, Arkansas, it's almost at the end of the world with one way in and one way out because there's no bridge across the White River down there. I drove all the way to Snow Lake once to where James was helping one of the other farm managers pick the cotton crop. I'd called to tell him Zach and I were on our way and he told me to call him after I'd gone through Melwood (which was as far as I'd ever been in that direction). I knew I was getting close when I passed out of Phillips and into Desha county so I called James to tell him to be looking for us. He said he'd be at the farm shop and it was on the highway so there was no way he'd miss me.
But he did.
I drove until I passed a post office, and shortly thereafter, (like 100 ft thereafter) ran out of highway and then drove a few more yards across an old railroad track and stopped in a shop yard. I saw 3 guys standing beside their trucks so I rolled my window down and asked them "where in the hell I was". A tall man wearing a John Deere cap sautered over and asked me where it was that I wanted to be cause other than a levee or two and some dirt roads, I was about as far as I could go unless I wanted to swim a river. He didn't know where hubby was picking cotton so I called James again and told him he'd better come find me cause I had run out of road and was lost.
I had passed some really old plantation type homes along the way that were left over from the days when Snow Lake had been a fairly large settlement. There was a time when the riverboats would dock there to let off supplies and pick up loads of lumber and bales of cotton. Although that spot in the road is only 50 miles south of here, it's like another world down there and I decided that if you got hurt badly or sick you could very well die before you could get out for medical care.
Here's a poem by a young man who visited the area that I enjoyed reading because it gives you the mood of the place.
Premonition in Snow Lake, Arkansas
Snow Lake, your skies pale blue
and smell like catfish.
ditches drone most nights-- the squares
of dikes sing your town to sleep.
When Boll Weevils appear in your town,
they snack on crops, spit
cotton seeds like the plague
across your cloudy kingdoms.
In town they drink Busch on Sunday mornings
on the street, watch their days
flow out and disappear in the fields.
daughters' windows rattle in the wind
that comes down from Helena.
I pull over
to check the map and notice the scale of sky
to field is 6 to 1, then I catch
the dirty crow's feet in the corners
of clouds, how they slice into white.
Highway 85 ends here at the gravel
where a black man stands
in coveralls on his porch, watches his dog
snap at the air, stares
into the field where his life will end
quietly, 15 years from today.