Caring for Cast Iron, by Misty Skaggs

Nobody wants to hear about my every­day life any­more. Nobody wants the truth I want to offer up, even though I lis­ten cour­te­ous­ly to your bull­shit, mind­less intel­lec­tu­al swill spewed over organ­ic din­ners with veg­an options. My small talk's not spicy like your authen­tic cur­ry recipes. The set­ting for my anec­dotes aren’t smokey bars or seedy truck stops or a one bed­room flop for mis­guid­ed and horny hill­bil­ly youth. The char­ac­ters in my anec­dotes aren't five hun­dred pound, no good, mohawked boyfriends with shit­ty bands' and shit­ty vans that I have to crawl under to unstick the gears. At least not any­more.

Nobody wants to hear about my new holler life. About mak­ing beds and tack­ing quilts and bow­el move­ments so black and hard they look like lumps of coal stain­ing the bowl. About car­ing for cast iron, lov­ing­ly caress­ing the heavy black weight of a light­ly rust­ing pan with two fin­gers, lubed up in lard. Nobody wants to hear about car­ing for a woman who's slow­ly dying in front of me. A woman who’s not ready to die. And not dement­ed and dimmed by her nine­ty sev­en years of age. She’s sharp as a cliché tack. But nobody wants to hear about my Mamaw's heart fail­ing, con­ges­tive­ly.

It's her heart. That's what the ugly, les­bian, hos­pice doc­tor says. And I trust her. It's her heart, the doc­tor says. That's why her arm hurts and aches until she screams and that’s why I stay up all night and I heat tow­els and wrap her tired limbs. Her good heart gone bad; only three nitro­glyc­erin and then call the ambu­lance. And then wait and wait and pray until they man­age to find us at the end of grav­el road hid­den amongst stands of black pine and ancient, gnarled up oaks. It’s her heart, it’s her age, it’s nature catch­ing up. It’s nature, dying.

Every­body wants to hear the sto­ry about how Gra­maw and I sit around and shit talk Her­bert Hoover. And how she refers to John­ny and June like they're fam­i­ly, even though she hates "that Boy Named Sue" song. "Silli­ness." Every­body wants to hear how she loves to read the raunchy romance nov­els with the seething, shirt less pirates and dark eyed, cal­loused cow­boys on the cov­ers.

But nobody wants to hear about how some­times I sit straight up as I'm drift­ing off to sleep. And it's my heart. It stops. And I'm con­vinced I can hear her soul leav­ing her body through the baby mon­i­tor. Nobody wants to hear that crazy shit. Nobody wants to hear about how she doesn't want to go peace­ful­ly. About how her eyes flash wild­ly when she thinks death is here and she isn't sure what's next. Every­body likes the sto­ry about how she's ready to be clutched tight in the arms of her hand­some, blue-eyed Jesus.

Misty Marie Rae Skag­gs, 30, is a two-time col­lege drop-out who cur­rent­ly resides on her Mamaw's couch in a trail­er at the end of a grav­el road in East­ern Ken­tucky. Her work has been pub­lished here on fried​chick​e​nand​cof​fee​.com as well as in print jour­nals such as New Madrid, Pine Moun­tain Sand & Grav­el, Lime­stone and Inscape. On June 9th, she will be read­ing her poems on the radio as part of the Seed­time on the Cum­ber­land Fes­ti­val. When she isn't bak­ing straw­ber­ry pies and tend­ing the back­yard toma­to gar­den, she spends her time read­ing and writ­ing damned near obses­sive­ly in the back porch "office" space she is cur­rent­ly shar­ing with ten kit­tens.

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2 Responses to Caring for Cast Iron, by Misty Skaggs

  1. Got­ta love that Misty Skag­gs

  2. Sharon says:

    When the ones we love get clos­er to that far­ther place, this is exact­ly right. It defines our life and our days, sel­dom effect­ing oth­ers, but chang­ing ours for­ev­er. "Car­ing for Cast Iron," shows the ten­der side of a dif­fi­cult, wrench­ing time. Great title and con­tent!

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