I watch twilight ease behind the towering pines, the overgrown honeysuckle vines sucking all the life out of the scraggly maples. Above the fading outlines, the only color left, a soft orange-red-pink, then blackness. Night wraps her arms around the world, my part of North Carolina, the soil I rent from the bank. In the dark, the outside is invisible, and I pull back the curtains to watch a moment, to feel the coldness of autumn whisper on my neck.


Up the gray trunk, twisting round, clinging–muscadines dangle above my head too high to reach. I linger in the shadows of the tree. I stare at the black-purple fruit, the green tops turning red from bottom up. Bitter changes to sweet, but it is slow work. Everything here is slow, careful. I want to jerk the tree, shake down the fruit, gather it all up. But I don’t. The work of sun and rain and heat and cold isn’t finished with their magic spell. Learn to wait, they whisper. I walk on.


Night and day feel too much alike. Both bleeding headlong into the other. Never stopping, always moving into the next cycle, the next, the next, the next like some careless drummer in a marching band. I catch my breath on the end of another day that I just went through the motions. Clean, wash, write, do. Always the same motions, I dig ruts so deep that they become my prison cells, and I can’t climb out–the red clay mud slams me back in the deepness. So, I continue to dig my way toward China, to write myself out of this mess because I can’t make anymore sense of the world until it forms words. All these words muddle together in the cocktail shaker, and I shake and dump them on the page.


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