The Angels of the Bottom Land


“I think I’ll live in Arkansas, till the angels make it known, if my heart can stop its beating, and give me reason to go home’, Says the frail and little woman between her sisters on the porch. As if an answer to the statement, or a question that had no start. A rumble sounds in distant heavens. Could be a storm or the cherubim of the ark. “They could be moving in the bottom, near the tombs onto the right”, says the younger of the sisters, a nervous strain fills her eyes. In a chorus of trio moving, the three heads turn to look away, at the small family cemetery in the meadow oft halfway in their sight.

The sisters sit immobile in the slight evening breeze, the whining of a porch chain, rhymes to the tapping of the eldest feet. The meadow out before them, surrounded by Elm Branch Creek. Bubbling from some deep vale in the darkness beneath old seas. The June bugs sing of summer, the battle of the heat, beneath a nearby Elm tree, a shadow moves its feet. If time were not temperamental. In glades of simple green. Then the grass beyond the front porch would have seen Eden’s dreams. “Could be time for evening cobbler”, says the youngest sister fair, “I know it’s well before dinner, but somehow I don’t really care”. A low cloud moves like a curtain. Open to a late afternoon light blue sky. “There is an early moon brewing”, says the oldest sister with a sigh.

So, the three watch the meadow. They peer out carefully. Three in one they know what is there, and they observe the shimmer leave. “Would that be a man a standing by that old Elm tree”, says the youngest sister to no one listening, for one of them can’t breathe. The heat has turned and moved the shadow out near the cemetery, and the two watch one retrieved. The sky turns on a second to winter and then by the sun it’s seized. The phantom takes a soul on forever, and a spirit is received. Gently so tenderly the eldest sister controls a sneeze, turning she pats her middle sister upon her stiffing knee. “Comfort dear, we saw you flying, and soon we will be along, but first your younger sister and I are going to have some cobbler, it’s calling us with its song. – 05.20.2018 – דָּנִיֵּאל

Daisy (On Mars)


“Her daddy Mr. Dalton, often said he suspected, when you died you went to live on Mar’s, that’s what Mr. Dalton said!”

She flounders a small woman by the side of the ruin, an altar she built as a child to the moon. A place near the Valley Springs. Alone, maybe a moonlit dream, near the swing her daddy built, it’s the end of October but still. In all of her books and fantasies, at her advanced age could she believe. She’s alone now, quaking inside from a breeze, that comes from the hollow north, near the fork in the valley, floor, where…

She kissed every star in the sky when she was sixteen, my, my, and why, did her tears fall, she thought she would be so much more. And fortune, held her against her view, wouldn’t let her become something new. Be an actress on the stage, of course her daddy said that’s okay. You’re in the valley, the hills are your home, so now…

She’s one hundred, dancing without a cane, near the oak where she had her first date, ate a picnic that she had spun, from honey, and buttermilk buns, considered the eyes of a fella, the one, who left her in 44, went to Mexico to avoid the great war. To the stars and the moon above, what’s below is still not known, in conceived she still must trust, in the…

Spirit, of water that runs nearby, the family ground on which her daddy died, the hollow north where her sisters knit, crafting magic from all they give, and all around her fall does move, singing songs that only she knew. In her heart Daisy lives on Mars, her imagination takes her so far, from the valley that she loves, takes her character, becomes brand new, dies tonight, because she…

Always knew, she’s going to leave home soon, resurrect herself by common luck, join her daddy, and sisters who say now, it’s not so bad being lights in the dark, incandescent, just like the moon, out in air traveling to and fro, come on Daisy it’s time to go, little Daisy it’s time to go.

“Her daddy Mr. Dalton, often said he suspected, when you died you went to live on Mar’s, that’s what Mr. Dalton said!”

In memory of my great Aunt Daisy, small in stature, bountiful in spirit, who still visits me in magic from time to time from Mars. – 10.30.2016 – דָּנִיֵּאל

The Picnic (Gaither 1909)


“Everything begins and ends at exactly the right place” – Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock

Oh the hills could they sing, bring the gathering to a ring, for the food that families eat is a sacrifice to where history sleeps.

“The full moon has just left us”, said Mr. Dalton with a sigh, his eyes searching for spirits as they ran increasingly by. It’s the fourth of June in 1909, in a circle near Gaither with the Ozarks marking time, the spell for memory is nigh. It was what begins a family or a friend, a neighbor wanting closure on a funeral that’s just been, a picnic in the meadow, near a grave or two or ten, and the woods of twilight’s future watches all over them. It’s the Dalton’s, with the chicken, and the Miller’s with the pies, someone whispered lightning’s there in Crooked Creek, by where little Ably Watkins drowned and died, like Lazarus he just went to sleep.  He won’t wake up and we don’t know why.

Daisy said, “the picnic brings us one under sky, the Fullerton’s a yonder I haven’t seen them, in week’s gone by.  And all of us together at Gaither, how time does fly”. All the woods around them whispering legends of epochs and by gone lies.  And the children run together, two by two they look for lore, until Ethel calls them forward unto lunch on the grass floor. And each ear she does whisper, “play and feel your own sweet worth, but keep wares that you see each others face where spirits might lurk”. “And you should not go where your unawares, for keepers will stay you there”.

Now it could be that no one looks to notice what is there, in the shady trees of Gaither round the mountain a specters lair, for it comes from layers deep, bringing questions when it speaks. Be it witches or be it spells, from the time that legends dwell. Oh the hills could they sing, bring the gathering to a ring, for the food that families eat, is a sacrifice to where history sleeps.

“The sun is setting soon”, said Joe Sylvie to his sister Zella, where she stood, “and I think I do declare, this days ending without a dare”. And they laugh and turn away, for they know they cannot say, what is family, what is faith, in the history of this place. For what begins and ends in rest, all around the circle crest, hats and bonnets, beards and bows, an eternal spirit glows. And the picture shows it best, fading faces all are blessed, at Gaither, where in coven, the families make the right place a nest.

Oh the hills could they sing, bring the gathering to a ring, for the food that families eat is a sacrifice to where history sleeps. – 04.28.2016 – דָּנִיֵּאל