On a recent trip to Louisiana, I found more links to family, and place. Over several years of going back, grief has softened some with these renewed connections. Even though my aunt is gone, even though so many people are gone, they linger all around me. The following is a little journal entry from my latest visit.
A longish and good and sweet walk on the levee in early morning heat.
So many things are familiar – hawks, scolding from the woods; little blue herons, sinking down into a damp field; the muskrat hole in the muddy bank of a ditch; white silky-petaled mallows blooming all along the batture edge; rising sun shining on water in the low woods. And heat – the suffocating, clinging, womb-warm, prickling heat. Cicadas drone in trees. A few walkers nod greetings on this early morning.
Here I am, again, stricken with the spell of such longing and sweet love – my body so happy; my bones and skin and organs so surprisingly at home. Here, I was so welcomed and loved, just because I was born. I am swamped with a cellular happiness, a visceral and maybe even genetic joy. For so many years, so many generations, this is where we’ve belonged.
All my people
have sprouted up here.
All my people rise up inside me,
and feel so right at home.
After a while, flush with the heat, I walk back through town, and pass the old man with the pink hat who sits on the porch in his red flannel shirt. We wave at each other, and I imagine that he wonders about me – where Bodi is, why I haven’t been here for months. But he is also just glad to lift a hand and be noticed; to be remembered. We notice and remember each other.
Near the car, I stop to watch swirling vultures over the orchard woods – floating, turning, slipping away. Suddenly, a hawk drops down from an orange tree, settles on the emerald ground, looking around for breakfast, then sails back up into another small tree to hide. The buzzards come back, circling and shifting. I just stare and stare.