Childhood At The River

I remember. . .

Pete, the colored man from the island, who helped Daddy build the small cabin, who sat outside on the stoop to eat the hot dog and pork ‘n beans from a can that Mama handed him on a paper plate while we ate inside at the table.

My brother’s raft, scrap boards tied together—much like Tom and Huck’s—that we paddled around in the shallow water, watching stinging nettles gang together in the water.

My cousins coming to our place on a Saturday to play on the beach and none of them liked the water.

Fishing with Daddy in his little wooden boat, white with red trim.

Filling jugs with water in Richmond to carry down with us because we didn’t have running water in the cabin.

The Johnny house out back, always making a statement with its awful stench.

The snake that tried to come up through the boards in the floor and Daddy shooting it with his shotgun. Kerbloom!

Playing the card game, Fish, at the round table in the kitchen/living room and the wind picked up suddenly, blowing across the water, and Daddy jumped up and said, “Get in the car! We’re going down to Grandma’s,” and when we came back, the cards had been blown everywhere, many of them stuck into the ridges of the rough-hewn boards.

The hammock where I spent what seemed like hours finding pictures in the clouds and telling myself that the blue, blue sky was my Mama’s blue dress, the one she wore when she lay in her casket, and she stretched it across the sky, her message to me. They told me she had gone to heaven.