April 07, 2003

Strained Metaphor Time, Grapes Of Wrath Edition

The prarie wind blew through the squeaky, clattering screen door, rustling the pages of a gas station calendar fastened to the wall with a tack. He couldn't believe it. Coming up on a year, 365 days. 365 squares on the gas station calendar. 365 times the sun had shown brightly through a clear sky and hit the wall of his one-room sharecropper's shack, then traced a path along the plywood walls and the dirt floor. And if one day it didn't shine quite so glaringly, he'd know the wait was over. Rain would fall. Things would grow. But that square of light had made that mocking journey 365 times without a cloud or a curtain to obstruct its path. The old radio played swing tunes only half-received from an AM station counties away as he stared out the window, eyes stinging with silt.

Funny thing, as his hunger got sharper his memories got better. The more defined his ribs, the more defined his mental snapshots of the glory days. Of long hours hoeing dirt so rich he barely had to plant any seeds. Of grey thunderheads looming like the chassises of old Fords over the windswept valley, nearly bursting with lifegiving rain. Of the way, with a good harvest behind him, life seemed full of prosperity and peace of mind.

He got so wrapped up in the memories, staring out that one square window, for a moment he was back there. He inhaled deeply, like a man for whom breathing was a joy and not a chore, and instead of the expected scent of glorious damp life sweeping in off of his majestic fields, all he got was a couple lungfuls of dust.

The song on the radio finished up, and the announcer came on with the long-term forecast. "Clear and breezy on through tommorrow," the announcer said, "and you'll be darn lucky to see a drop of rain the rest of this week." In the middle of his coughing fit, he could've sworn he heard "for the rest of your life." But his ears were dusty too.

He was starting to forget what he promised himself, that he'd only plant on land that he'd loved and tendered and cared for. Now he was about willing to throw down seeds wherever the rain would fall.

Posted by DC at April 7, 2003 11:39 PM
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