Thursday, August 21, 2008
The material center of the new work in progress is a limestone hill - Dutton Hill - site of my grandparent's now vanished home. Pete's Spring is on the side of this hill, where water flows out of a crevice in the limestone.
My dad grew corn here, weaving his plow around the bones of the hill that emerge out of the soil.
The stones have circular depressions and topographic-style lines - as though you were high above another world, looking down at the contours of pale gray landscapes.
There is an obelisk, with a flowery inscription, on the southern side, marking the death site of 28 southern soldiers, or eighteen - some number with 8 in it. The text of the inscription is quoted on an earlier blog called "You'll Always Come Back." In family stories they were in the yard, "a soldier for every blade of grass" - (poetic hyperbole) - come to take what they wanted; corn, supplies - and if Pete hadn't hid the horses, mules and cattle in a cave on Pitman Creek they would have taken them too. They called him nigger - unable, probably, to conceive that he'd sworn to my great grandmother he'd die before he told them where the livestock was hidden. Their numbers don't matter anyway, to anyone but a military historian. If anyone knows their names I don't know.
They were participants in a war.
This is one of the first texts that I memorized - but I learned it from hearing my dad recite it.
One night Terry and I were night walking on top of the hill and I felt something, like a wall of moving electricity, pass through my body, from front to back, just as though I'd walked through an invisible pane of electric glass, or it walked through me. I assumed that it was from the powerlines that cross the hill. My aunt Gladys had fought the power company long and hard, but she lost, and the lines are there. As soon as it happened I felt paranoid and awful. We went back to the studio and I curled up into a fetal ball and spent the rest of the night in discomfort.
Some years later I was driving home in a dense fog and felt the same sensation - as though I'd driven through an electric membrane. It started at my feet, hit my thighs and hands on the steering wheel at the same time, then went on through the rest of my body. It had sides; a before and after. The next day I heard on the radio that the spot was the site of a fatal wreck that happened earlier on that very same evening...
"I wouldn't want to scare anybody." (Alexander, in Bergman's "Fanny & Alexander")
I have trouble with electromagnetism anyway - so maybe it wasn't ghosts. But even if it was the residual ex-human electromagnetic fields lingering on the site of uneasy death, they probably are now trapped in the plasmic fields of the powerlines.
And everything's gone to hell up there anyway - the hill, is over-run with invasive alien weeds and bushes, which the subdivision inhabitants use to hide their dump piles of old furniture and drink cans.
I wouldn't want to scare anybody.
But I have used photoshop to enhance the kirilian auras on the powerlines, so that the patterns of the southern soldiers, in numbers who were slain in this county in the war of the secession, may not be unnoticed.
They are skirted in the digital plaids of doom.