Decoration Day

graveyard-Church

It rained last night, so the road up to the church is muddy this morning.
Bro. Carter made it up, I see, so let’s give it a try.

Goddammit.
Now, Bill, it’s Sunday.
Shit.

Watch your feet when you get out.
I’m going over to have a cigarette. Be right there.

He walks a ways then kicks the mud off on the side of a tombstone:

Pfc. Walter Prescott
Arkansas Volunteers
1842-1864

Bill remembers standing there fifty years ago-
Has it really been that long?-
when Bro. Hubbard buried his Daddy
down by that magnolia tree that the kids climbed in
when they were little.
He remembered his Daddy dragging on Camels
in the kitchen after breakfast and coughing ‘til his face
was as red as the plum jelly smeared over toast on the
plate in front of him..

And then one day his Momma came to the schoolhouse
and said, C’mon, Daddy’s gone to be with Jesus
And Bill thought Jesus had finally come back the way
Bro. Hubbard shouted he would be coming back soon.
But Daddy was in the living room under a sheet
and men came and took him to the church
and then Momma cried
and then Momma cried
and then Bill ran to where he was standing now
beside Pfc. Walter Prescott.

Other cars had made it up the hill now and
pretty soon there was some feedback 
screeching through the windows of the church
which meant Bro. Carter’s wife was fixin to sing
and
I guess I better get up there in case Jesus comes today

Bill looked down at the magnolia tree one more time
as he ground his cigarette out and got mud on his shoe
again. Goddammit, anyway.

 

David B. Weber, 2006

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