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    « March 21, 2006 - Work of the Day - A Long Time by Gayle Brandeis | Main | March 22, 2006 - Work of the Day - Three Scenes From My Life by Richard Grayson »

    March 22, 2006

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    Pete

    Dan, you and my wife share the uncanny ability to fill up every spare minute of your lives.

    Melissa Kinchen

    I am an English teacher and have been presented with a remarkable essay by a very talented 10th grade boy. I gave him the prompt - What I Like and Dislike about the South. He produced the following very moving piece of his experience as a young African-American:

    Have you ever felt the pain of loving an adulteress? Have you ever lain beside her through the night knowing that she can never be yours, that everything you love about her is forever outside of your grasp, that you can never satisfy her completely? After all, you may give her one night but he…he can give her an eternity. The evidence of that so incredibly visible by the way that she disappears with the coming of morning quicker than your mind can even recognize her absence. That is what the south is to me, an adulteress, and her lover, the being that separates us more completely than the sky separates earth from heaven, is her …history. A history that, although speckled with dabs of honor, strength, and love, is ultimately overshadowed by its bloodshed and its tragedy, its deaths and its sorrows.
    I can’t remember when I first met the south. I can’t remember any one incident that opened my eyes to the everyday miracles around me. I can’t remember any one song that tuned my ears to the millions of wordless stories being told. Most likely it was a gradual thing: As I got older the south and I got closer. She was my teacher and I was her student. I learned from her the famous southern hospitality, the language of New Orleans jazz and cuisine. I learned the inner strength of her men, the unparalleled tenderness of her women. I learned the mischief of her children as well as the wrath of her parents. I learned the sorrow of her wounds, the comfort of her nights, and above all I learned the inborn pride that is a product of being a part of her. Unfortunately though, it’s too bad that on the same day I learned the words cypress and oak I also learned the word lynch, the minute I learned the word politics I also learned the word injustice, and the minute I learned the word currency I just happened to learn the word corruption. I know that everywhere there is man there will be a good chance of evil, but I refused to believe that that philosophy could prove true in this south. It could happen anywhere else, but not here.
    But here was where it was.
    So tell me … please tell me how I can admire the beauty of the cypress and the oak, all the while knowing what fruit they used to hold. How can I admire the wind knowing all the while the mixture of death and tears it may once have carried? How can I love this grass, knowing that once it may have been tinted red with hellish, bloody dew? How can I love and be with this adulteress knowing that her history clings to her closer than I ever will? So with the bleak uncertainty of the future stretching out before me, drawing me down this road that I loathe to take, I must watch this magic fall away like night before dawn, like infatuation before change. I must watch my heroes dissolve, becoming nothing but hollow shells, poor imitations of the motivation and inspiration that once defined them. Now the nights that me and this south share are becoming farther and farther apart, the days farther still, as she begins to grow closer to her beloved history, as they intertwine and slowly become one and the same.
    Have you ever lost the love of an adulteress? Ever felt yourself regress and once again feel the pain of going to sleep without her embrace, her kiss, or her touch? Ever hoped against hope that everything you once had could be restored, even the pain, knowing all the while that such a thing was impossible? Have you ever had to reminisce, let your memories and recollections become the anesthetic that will bear you off to sleep? Well, the south has left me like this; her innocence forever gone from my eyes.
    From time to time I still see her though.
    On certain walks I take I might hear her voice, start a conversation with her that picks up right where we left off. On other days when some kind of kindness passes my way I may just feel the tug and warmth of that familiar hospitality taking hold of my heart like it always used to do. For the most part though, it feels like I’m a visitor here, a visitor in a place that I lived every year of my life. (Ironic isn’t it?) In spite of that though, I know I’ll never find it in my heart to leave. I’m rooted here deeper than some of the most ancient trees. This south has become a river of my pain, but also it has become a river of my pleasure. It has been the sound of my song, and it has been the song of my sorrow. This south has even, at some points, been my jail, even though at the same times it was my jazz. This south has been plastered with every single ounce of my hate, but most of all: it was, it is, and it will always be…home.

    jason

    I can hardly stand the suspense…

    julia

    I'm looking forward to the announcement too. Luckily, I think Dan said in a different message that we should have some news this week.

    qamruddin

    hi i like to play contes

    barbara dell hobbs

    Congratulations! The essay is chilling as well as an inherent truth. Why? The story echoes my feelings about the deep south. I was born there. I left when I was a teenager 45 years ago and never wanted to live there again. Life for me as an African American was just that painful.

    Brad Hanna

    A very well written essay. I must reply to one of the posted replies on how chilling this is. Too many times I hear people stating stereotypes of the South left over from the Civil War. As a photo journalist who has been all over the world and West Africa (in particular. In fact I can tell you that you have not, experienced the horrors you associate with living in the south as an African American as compared to the genocide my eyes have witnessed in other places. I encourage you to rent "Blood Diamond" as it is an accurate depiction of the evil men have done unto others.

    Rosie

    These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

    George Cannon (ImageGuy)

    Please have a look at "Short short stories" at http:www.imageguy.net. A new series of very short fiction based each time on one photo. Thanks.

    ImageGuy

    Bibletimeline

    A Bible quote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi often uses to justify her environmental agenda doesn't exist, biblical scholars tell CNSNews.com reporter Pete Winn. Pelosi last cited the fictional Bible passage two days ago to commemorate Earth Day. In her April 22 news release, Pelosi said, The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.

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