Monday, 11 May 2009

Ugly p13

Once upon a time you looked so fine, throw a bum a dime, in your prim, didn't you.

The music fades in my mind, a little more every sunset I see.

My mother loved that song. Like a Rolling Stone.

Now that I was standing still I really felt that song to my very core.

Life in Kentucky. What can I say. What can I say. It fit on my body like clothes that didn't belong to me. Too baggy here, too tight there, mostly too tight, especially around my neck, chocking the life out of me. Tight around the tummy, making me sick all the time.

They tried choak me, those closthes, those customs, those people.

Just like my mother tried escape, I was planing mine in my head.

My grandmother dressed me in overalls most the time. Said I was a tomboy. Grandfather would say, "No need to waist good money on pretty dresses or material on something so unpretty. Give her the boy's old clothes." There were other phrases like "can't dress up a pig, it's still a pig." and such. He didn't say them to my face. I guess that was his way of being nice. Mind you it was always in ear shot. Maybe he thought I was deaf or maybe it just eased his conscious to be out of my sight.

I didn't care. I didn't feel very pretty anyway. The overalls were tough enough to deal with almost all I threw at it. Climbing trees, running in the hills, catching frogs in creeks, skipping stones, running away from all day church when I could. Most of these things I did on my own. We all preferred it this way. Occasionally an aunt or an uncle would come looking for me. The times they came looking got longer and longer until they stopped coming.

School was well hell. What do they say "children are cruel". They is a great excuse never to correct your child. Boys are boys, children are cruel. These are things people say because they taught their kids to be nasty little ugly pieces of devil's spawn. That was ugly of me to say, but you see, I've meet their parents.

One hot summer Sunday while the others were at church, hearing about the "lord's plan for everyone" I stole away. I was about 10 years old. I remember I actually sat through a sermon the week before. Children usually are not allowed with the grownups, but since Sunday school seems to be disturbed by my presence. Let's put it another way. I got tired of hearing to be Jesus like and turn the other cheek when the other kids would tease me, pelt me with spit balls, punch me, etc, you know, all the good christian things. Did I mention my theory they were devil spawn? A month before this day I got a little Jesus in the temple on their butts. I turned over a few tables on them, reminded teacher that even Jesus had enough. Teacher had a little "talk" with my grandparents, ever since then, I sit with the grownups who don't throw spit balls, just dirty looks. This sermon, it was my last for a long time. The preacher was talking about the 'way of things' and 'God's great plan' for everyone. It was when he started talking about a woman needing a man to complete her was when I wanted to run up there and tell him what for. Even at that age I realized that if you can not complete yourself than no-one can do it for you. I saw too many women in the commune doing that. Sometimes I swear that was all the orgies were about, a desperate need to fill that piece of theirs soul they felt was missing, all this soul mate bull is the same. My mother the way she looked at oldest father at Woodstock. I understand why, if this is what she was told all her life.

Now you know why I hated church, foolish misogynist preachers. Oh he wasn't a one trick pony he hated more than just women. He really hated homosexuals. Man, oh man, and if they were woman homosexuals, he went on all day about them. There was some sort of tennis player in the 1970's he just never got tired of judging. I was always astonished how his list of people he wanted everyone to hate kept growing. Everyone seemed to go along with it with their Amens, my only option was to run away from that ugliness.

Walking in the fields I come across a rusty old steel guitar. Half under the tall grass near the old maple tree. All brown like leaves in the fall. At first I thought it was just a bunch of leaves. I must have passed it hundreds of times before and not noticed it. This time it called out to me. I pull it. I lost my grip and fell on my bum. I found a sharp rock and cut away some of the grass and weeds that entwined it to the ground. I pulled at it again, this time I landed on my bum again, but with the guitar in hand.

It was different shades of rust. I rubbed it down with my shirt. The strings were old and some broken. I started plucking at them. I didn't care that I wasn't making music, not like you are suppose to with a guitar, not like the people in the parks when I was a little one, not like my uncle on the porch at night. I plucked here and there , moved my fingers. I banged the front with my hand as if it was a drum.

I made an odd song. I imagined it was as old as the stars, older then the Earth itself. The rhythm and the tune changed, rhythmical weaved in and out.
I could see people in the plains in Africa, or at least what I imagined them to be. I saw cave men skinning their hunt. I saw people who live in the land of snow. I saw Suzy and the boys but they were living long ago. I saw children be born and grow old and die. It was if it was the song of time and it was all before me. I was so in the song there was nothing that could brake the spell.

"Ah!" I screamed as the guitar was ripped from my hands. It cut them slightly.
The spell was broken.

"What are you doing taken other people's stuff?!" The older man was yelling at me in a deep voice.

I turned and wanted to run, but he had his hand on my shoulder.

I turned towards him. he took a step back . I have seen that look all my life, they are shocked at my face. They don't know what to say. I took the opportunity to get away.

"Hey, you that child, daughter of Bobbie Sue. The one your grand-pappy went to go get in California." He yelled after me.

I stopped.

"Yeah, I know about you. The whole county do. The preactures warned us before you were introduced. So we would not say anything. Said we should not blame the child for the mother's sin."

I turned. He smiled. I thought I had fire erupting from my head. This explains why I was in the house for a month before they would allow me to be outside, bring me to school, the market or even their horrible church, Jesus forgive me for saying that.

I started stomping back. He sat by the tree and picked up another guitar. From behind the tree a younger black woman appeared all dressed up in Sunday go-to church clothes. "Granddaddy, that is horrible, what you said to that child! You appologize right now!"

He laughed "Apologize for what, telling her the truth. Hell, that moth on her face don't bother me. Ain't no sin. Ain't no sin most the people in this town haven't done that brings people into this world. Her mother didn't kill no-body, just did what the good lord made man and women for doing, anyway." He laughed at his granddaughters discust.

I was now back at the tree. "It is a BUTTERFLY not a moth!" Little did he know, my mother did kill someone, that is part of the reason I ended up in this back world place. "My name is Butterfly, I was given it by a real old Indian woman!"

"Ok, ok, Butterfly. My mother was Cherokee princess. Means we have something in common. Why don't you just ask if you want to learn to play." the old man said as he picked up the guitar and started strumming out this song. It sounded like the song the woman at Woodstock would sing. The one that my mother cried to. She is now dead, along with many other musicians that I meet in San Francisco. Every time one would die, my grand parents would point it out and say that could have been me. Or that they were just waiting for the call that it is their daughter.

"Don't be teaching that girl the blues, play some gospel, show her the Lord!" the younger woman said again.

"You think I am teaching this youngin something new? This child knows the blues! It was written for her. Preacher can teach her about the Lord, I was put here for different reasons. Shush now girl, I am playing." He said back to her.


Woke up this morning I looked 'round for my shoes
You know I had those mean old walking blues
Yeah, I woke up this morning I looked 'round for my shoes
Girl, I had those, ooh, mean old walking blues

Some people tell me that worried blues ain't bad
It's the worst old feeling I ever had
People tell me that worried blues ain't bad
It's the worst old feeling, ooh child, I ever had

Looks run to the ocean and the ocean runs to the sea
If I don't find my baby, don't bury me
Look to the ocean and the ocean went to the sea
Yeah, if I don't find my baby, ooh yeah, don't bury me

Minutes seem like hours and hours seem like days
Since my baby started her low down ways, yeah
Minutes seem like hours and hours seem like days
Since my baby, ooh, started her low down ways

I woke up this morning, people, I looked 'round for my shoes
You know I had those mean old walking blues
Yeah, I woke up this morning I looked 'round for my shoes
Yeah, you know I had those, ooh, mean old walking blues


He sang, and sang and sang. I stayed there all afternoon long. The young woman brought us lemonade and at the end we all went to Sunday dinner. This was some great food. I wish my grandmother cooked like this. Then back out to the tree and he sang some more. As the sun started going down. I ran home, the blues songs dancing in my head.

"Where have you been all day?" grandmother said.

"If you think you get supper after running all over creation on the Lord's day you are sadly mistaken there , girlie!" grandfather said.

I bowed my head and went up the stairs to my room. I pretended I was hungry, even managed a tear.

"That will show her." He said " a hungry belly will do her good, teach her a lesson."

In reality I could not fit in another bite.