Summer of Absalom
by Lis Anna
Sun melted in surrender around the warm glow of our bodies that first summer we spent together. In a small town in Mississippi we fell into each others arms.
The sound of my aunt Louisa reading Faulkner aloud under the pale light in August drove him wild, the past echoing in her gently, lilting voice. A crack in the earth filled with water swooped off beyond the bluff into sunset. Hot, wild fragrant nights were book ended by dust floating down to tabletops. He strummed his six string and made my thighs long to be plucked, long to lay in his lap turning harmonic pages into song. Everything in my aunt’s house was old, with a crank. No wireless, no hi-tech. A lonesome world, recreated every afternoon. No shiny distractions to tear me away from his smile.
Everything turned off at night, except us. I liked the way he called me baby even though the windows of his soul were dirty, streaked with the fingerprints of flawed gods, whiskey rhyming men full of swagger. Under the glow of a hurricane lamp our magnetic attraction for one another crackled like lightning out on the wide open plains.
Auntie read Faulkner while we snuck around all night falling in love with each other, breathing the still, balmy air. I whispered to him, laying next to me in bed and he smiled, laughed, kissed me. His kisses were like a good bottle of scotch. I never got enough of them. Never loved kissing anyone but him, not in my whole life. No one owned him, he’d never been a walking shadow. A bit of madness, trueness in his voice lured me in. Lonely, consumed out under the bright, blue sky a fierceness in his eyes swept me across the landscape. In the last fading rays of twilight we disappeared into the shadows of the parlor, far from my napping aunt.
A naked searching for feelings just below our skin exposed our layers to the world. Our hands were a wild catalog of exploration. If we slipped deep enough then quiet moans erupted and his fingers pressed against my lips. We retreated down to the boathouse
in the hot, tomblike air breathing in the scent of jasmine blooming beneath the window.
The scent of me blooming in his hands.
All of our days were nights.
On Wednesdays he went to see his uncle Ringo as he lay dying in the old folks home. Afterwards we’d light stars with our fingertips, call sunsets into being. Storms rolled across the dusty plains. We fled into our warm bodies and listened. The sound of his footsteps on the hard, wooden planks of the front porch was divine music to me, divine in the way that bodies never leave love behind but yearn for it, are driven to find it hiding in the eaves.
We found and old treasure map when we stowed away in a closet. We stole shovels from the boathouse and endeavored to find treasure.
Into the dusty back roads went until we rounded a bend, on that dusty back road, and saw a man hanging from a tree. Flies flew in and out of his open mouth. White lips, eyes bulging. He looked over our heads in the direction of his murderer, an image burned onto his mind’s eye but he could not curl his tongue around a name, could not climb down from the hereafter. The stink of the man kicked up in the breeze mingling with gardenia.
We vanished into the trees. Into the half light of August we went, unaided, alone. The sheriff came. They rode out on horses because the path was too narrow for cars, too far from the road. Thick, warm air clung to our arms. A deputy cut the man down but the rope still hung, ends frayed. We stared at those frayed ends, streams of sunlight rippling though the branches.
Uncle Ringo threw a vase of roses against the wall. I shook my head. Yankees won’t go calmly to take the hand of God. Won’t follow the devil straight to hell like everyone else.
When the last fallen rays of summer departed we slowed down into dreams of humble means, patched together with seams that connected intricate lives. The heat inside me was enough to light up the atmosphere. We tried so hard by not trying at all. It didn’t have to make sense anymore. We went back to the place we’d come from because we’d never been there before. I drank too much Cabernet and tears rushed onto the kitchen tile as I railed against the end of summer, the frayed end of the man in the tree.
I went down to old man Zephron’s cabin and he gave me a powder to drink under a full moon. When we kissed a vision would come, streaked with the fingerprints of flawed gods, whiskey rhyming men full of swagger. And with this we went unaided, alone, into the last days of summer crying Absalom, Absalom.
Copyright 2013 (c) Lis Anna All Rights Reserved