Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tallulah at 4

Thanks to Nancy Sullivan Mason and Kirk Chamberlain, new friends here in Jacksonville, for these photos!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Post removed because the material will be published elsewhere as an essay I'm writing on motherhood.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tallulah's projects

"Barbie in jail"
Sculpture with objects found on the side of the road

Sullivan's Island to Jacksonville

Princess dresses worn daily, Sullivan's Island
Latest foraged food--bay leaves, Sullivan's Island
Adam with hard drive, Intracoastal Waterway
The crew, Beaufort, SC
Sunset somewhere in Georgia
Jekyll Island
New dinghy, Jacksonville

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The British Colonel fighting at Breach Inlet in the late 1700s wrote of alligators, spiders “as big as my coat buttons,” rattlesnakes, “nothing to drink but brackish water”—we read it on the commemorative plaque before running back across the road to the boat to head out, leaving Sullivan’s Island, sailing across the harbor, past the curve of Charleston’s battery.

Rough palmettos and changing leaves, expanses of yellow marsh, no movement except that of the sea birds, a vulture circling on an updraft. This is the verge of the New World.

At Brickyard Creek, there’s a loop of houses, small outpost of development—half are empty or for sale. There’s an old cemetery across the road. We walk up to a grave—Bolden, the name is. “I want to see a dead person,” Tallulah says.

I think of Buddy Bolden and his loud, loud cornet bursting from the bandstand at Lincoln Park, echoing all the way down to Canal Street. Years later, holding an instrument donated to the asylum, he played breaking notes that sounded like mown grass, like sweat and cheap perfume, like barbershop bravado, which recalled boys with dented brass that had come up the river from Asomante and Santiago, shouting for pure joy.

I tell her there’s nothing but bones down there, the woman’s been buried since 1926. “I want to see it,” she insists. Spanish moss hangs from the low limbs of the oak trees. The graves are scattered haphazardly, overgrown with weeds—one still a mound of earth, though the man died a year ago. I wonder why the gray dirt hasn’t melted into the grass. I don’t want to go near the little lambs on the headstones.

Walking back, Tallulah gathers fine sand at the road’s edge—stops and spreads her arms wide, chanting an incantation to some god she’s created, letting the sand fall from her fingers and smiling up at the moonlit sky.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I dreamed that Barack Obama was having an affair with Mae West. She lived in a big townhouse in the French Quarter, filled with old furniture and hardback books, the kind of place that would be in a novel about octoroon balls. Mae West had a daughter, maybe seven or eight, and our kids played. I opened a book—something by Flannery O’Connor. (I love my dreams, and read avidly, making whole worlds of private space.)

We left Charleston and made it as far as a dock near the Stono River. A mechanic named Ray ate Halloween candy we gave him and tried to figure out what was wrong with the engine. Tallulah and I took a walk on a road raised between the river and the tidal flats where long-legged white birds landed, poking in the grass, and tiny crabs with huge claws ran like ants across the sandy dirt.

In the end we headed back to Sullivan’s Island. Adam fixed the engine today. I’m dyeing the gray in my hair for the first time. We’ll head out again tomorrow.  

*Thanks, Vicki Stone, for the great photo.