Vol. III, No. 3, Winter 1990


The Old Sooter Place

by Derlene Gibson



Dead wood and mottled clay carve this space out of time -- one room and a loft. Grey, rough grain holds the cutting marks that transformed trees to walls of thick and heavy logs still not half an inch off perfect square.

A hundred years,

and more,

are layered in the pale dust that filters from the beams and hangs transparent frescoes in the air

like firelight

etching lines of dried onions, shadowing the corner where sour wool coats hung above a flattened saddle, searching for shape among quilt-covered mounds in the loft, and glimmering on fingers pushing beans from pods to a slow pile as dogged need dragged out the day.

In the cabin yard,

above japonica and a line of daffodils, the pine tree rose -- a slow giant stirred by wind or breeze to remote indelible breath, the evergreen sound the same in all seasons.

When iceblown winters

caulked the shingles white, or hammered hail against the narrow windows, the cold entered in thin filaments as the fire grew black and low toward the morning. Sometimes the quilts were not enough and bones shifted slowly with aching chill.

In dusty summers

the cooking fires embellished the room with heat and blasted them to shade out back beneath the bent mulberry spreading a dome of leaves beside the root cellar, or down to the woods, down the rocky ravine, down to the deepgreen spring for another bucket of water.

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Copyright -- OzarksWatch


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