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 friedchickenandcoffee.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.
Gotta love that Misty Skaggs
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!