Posted on March 2, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair3.2.2014 Journal Prompt Image from Vernon, Florida March 2, 2014: They kept it in a jar. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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In the crouchin dark at the back of the old barn, there where the air is drier than biscuit is, or straw, and it catches in the throat, and the smell of pig fat used to soften the leather harness, and the jangle of brass buckles, and the scritch-scratch of mice, and the fizz and flicker of flies or wasps, there in the back of the old barn is granda’s shelf. And arranged on the shelf is granda’s collection of screw-top glass jars.
Not for touchin, those jars. Not on no account. Not lest they drop and break on the hard earth floor, or if not breakin then what’s inside all shook and shook, and things stirred up that should lie settled and still, and should always lie still.
If I bends myself in two, on my knees like prayin is sometimes, and quiet as prayer is also, and the stamped dirt floor hard as stone under my knees, and I puts my ear to the cold glass of this jar or that, and I shuts my eyes and I listens – sharp as listenin can be, holdin my breath tight as fingers in the shapes of punches, and shushin my screamin heart to small whisper, then I do hear what’s in the jar. I thinks I do. Words I hears, that was said in temper once, or curses against dry weather or bad harvest or early snow. And secrets sometimes.
You has to listen longer for to hear granda’s secrets, but they is there. And he kissed a girl once and it was not granma. Kissed her and touched her under her dress, strokin her diddies like they was puppies asleep. And granda wishes he hadn’t done what he done; and a part of him wishes he could have that time to do over again for it was the sweetest time. All that in a screw-top glass jar and dust like fur on the lid and granda’s voice softer than it is now so that I think it was a longer time ago.
And one nothin-happenin-day granda says I can have a jar that’s my own. So he washes the scrape of pickle out of the glass with water so hot I cannot afterwards hold the jar, ‘cept with granma’s oven-glove that is thick as three blankets. And he bakes the jar then, like it is bread and it could rise and be a bigger jar. Ain’t nothin inside then, granda says, no dirt or dust, and the air inside as clean and as pure as angel’s breath, and the glass looks like polished thin silver. And when it cools enough it don’t burn through the blanket-glove, then granda holds the jar before me, close as if he was offerin me to dip my fingers inside and to scoop out two fingers of jam or syrup-drippin pears or apricots, and he says I is to speak my forever-after-words into the jar – in smallest voice or tallest shout, it makes no nevermind which, just so long as I is quick as quick. And when I’s done he slams the screw-top lid on, not letting any part of my words escape, and he twists and twists, like he’s wringin the necks of hens, twists till the lid is tight as lids are on shop-bought jam. And he lets me listen then, hearin my own words rattlin inside, and he nods and he makes a space on the shelf in the barn where it’s dark, a space for mine alongside his jars. And he says leavin it there is like leavin it behind, like it is no more a part of me and my thoughts can be lighter after that.
What I said is now a somethin atween me and my granda and the glass jar, and we is sworn to never tell no one, and granda runs his fingers through my hair and he says ‘There now’ and he says the same to settle the beasts standin restless in theys stalls in the time before milkin. And he picks up the jar what has dust as thick as fur on its lid and he holds it to his ear, and he says for me to run along now, clackin his tongue against the roof of his mouth. And he winks and he makes the shape of a kiss with his lips and he lays one crooked stiff finger across that kiss and he says with his eyes how it is our secret and I is not to tell granma and I won’t.