Hoping the nightmares fade
I know Pa
As the train Iím on reaches St. Louis, heís still on the front porch in his rocking chair with the rest of my folks on either side, staring down the dirt road I dove off on, thinking Iíll be coming back.
First born girls like me ought not to leave home unless weíre married, and even then no so far as Flatville let alone heading to New York like me.
My kin Ė like most kin in those hills nófigure family ought to stick close, not go wandering off where nobody knows them or cares to.
More than once País told me to quick acting so uppity, like Iím such a superior being when Iím of the same flesh and bone as he and Ma, and my siblings.
He doesnít want to hear that I got a mind of my own, and dream of making myself over into something other than what he and ma have become.
I look at ma and shudder, knowing she isnít half as old as she looks, and how sheíll die long before she has a right to because of the life pa makes us leave.
She works harder than any slave ever did, thinking sheís better somehow than black people, when I see her Ė and the rest of us as no better, maybe worse, because white folks like us are supposed to amount to something and we donít, despite all Pa says.
Our farm is a dust bowl we scratch out enough to keep ourselves from starving, though year by year we get less and less.
Pa blames the weather, the world, the government, his wife, his kids, but never himself.
I tell Pa I want to go to school or get a job, or do anything other than dig earth and eat dust for the rest of my life.
He says we got find schools in Flatville if I was uppity enough to need to know so much. He says he doesnít want me going so far away that it would be impossible for him or anybody to see me.
Going far is the point, I tell him.
Not seeing him is why Iím going to New York.
I canít say anything about those hours late at night when everybody else is asleep, when my door opens and he crawls in, and what he does with me in my bed when Ma and the others think heís sleeping, too.
I canít just come out and say a think like that to him or anybody, even when Pa and I know the truth.
I want to go far enough away to maybe someday believe the dust and the midnight visits are nothing more than remembered nightmares, from which I will eventually wake.
So Iím on this train and Pa is on his porch.
Both of us are staring out at empty sky thinking sad things we ought to forget.
And maybe we will