Saturday, June 2, 2007

summertime still reminds me of virginia

I do remember the humid nights, he thinks, those nights and all the other nights of his inheritance layered now onto this one. The air perfumed with wisteria, the opportunistic vines that flourish along the north acres, purple blossoms above the smokehouses and the curing huts with their omnipresent scent of tobacco that seems its own animate force, a presence as inescapable as the sounds of the darkie drums that rumble incessantly on those summer full moon nights with the land all covered in the unearthly white glow and the eternal drum beating its binding blood and sweat tattoo upon the mortal flesh. And they shiver in warm silk, lying up in the manor house, a distant spice rolling through the screens. Tremors in the lady’s face, flickering nerves in her cheeks and jaw. Whether it is the actual sound of the drum or its primordial intimation, the lady cannot say. She knows only that this nightmare menace, the elevation of that unnamed and unspoken dark netherworld to her realm, leaves her unsettled for weeks. The energy of those drums cannot be restrained forever. An axe snatched from the smith, scarlet blood staining the pristine white silks, portended stains that will not wash clean. The failures of the house servants, scrubbing endlessly on the metal washboards, skin silently grated off fingertips, rooms filled with the smell of bleach and sour electric fear.

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