Greg Correll

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Greg Correll

Greg Correll
Location
New Paltz, New York, US
Birthday
September 21
Title
Founder, Chief of Deselopy (small packages); Editor (doesthismakesense.com)
Company
small packages, inc.
Bio
I write.

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Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 11:33AM

grip foot

Rate: 35 Flag

 

Punished, locked in the backyard, leaning on the dandelion fork, I watch my two bare feet. I love bare feet.

I squinch the Kansas crabgrass. I love the yuck, the chlorophyll stain, God's smeary paint on my boy toes. 

I have the grip-foot: grass stuck in slender, cringing bunches, sliding away. I grip, I pull. I feel each sandy-slick blade as it releases. I feel it all the way up my tanned legs, and in my inside parts.

Uh-oh.

I poke at the grass with the fork, and turn my back on the small white house. I sneak a look: she's on the big black wall phone, behind the hot, bright glass of the kitchen window. Her voice – her laugh – comes to me in thick mumbles. I wipe sweat, my fingers wet. I look down. I wander a few steps; I stab at the chalky muck along the low rock wall.

I cut one of her strawberry vines. I crush the dead, yellow runner with the fat vee of the fork.

I wipe my neck and crane around. I stop, eyes on kitchen windows. She's going to run the vacuum now. She's in the closet, cursing at the cord.

The sun is hot.

I watch. I don't want to get in trouble, for not moving around enough. I poke and walk, eyes on grass, eyes on windows, eyes on grass. I stop and dig a real weed. I pick it up, take a few steps, and throw it on the pile. White fluff escapes. Seven weeds. He will expect a pile. I go back to the hole and hide it with my toe.

I wipe my eyes.

I wander, two more weeds. I reach the hedge and walk in slow circles. I'm not hiding. It's an accident, see? I'm not hiding. In sight, not, in sight, not. I stop behind the holly hedge. I crouch. I invent an excuse for everything I do. I'm checking. Is this a weed? I'm working!  I shade my eyes and look under the shrubs at the kitchen door, at the cracked pane where my good Sunday shoe kicked it in. It was an accident.

My knees, perfect knobs, jostle my chin. I smell of church day talc.

The vacuum vrmm-vurv-vumvles and aahhchh-aah-aachhs, from inside. I am safe. I can goof off now. I wander, hidden, behind the hedge. At the chain link I let the fork tip drag along: chatck-chat-t-k-kat-at. A coin-y jangle ripples behind me, follows me to the hiding corner of barberry and sycamore and scrub. I turn sideways and slide inside. The grass is cooler here.

I lean against the rattling fence, out of sight. I turn my head: Mrs. Trombauer's green plastic sun roof. I turn my head: the fat babysitter's fake bricks. Nobody. I breath.

I wipe my eyes.

I jab the fork deep in the black loam. It sways, stands. I look down: I grip the cool blades with filthy toes. I pull, I drop them a few at a time on Dad's stack of smashed concrete slabs, broken and crumbling under low, dead branches. I grip, squeeze, pull, drop. Green bits, making a mess on his concrete. I wipe my toes on the dead leaves. I look straight up, through the empty branches, and smell October tree smell, scorch and burn and must.

He will be home and I will get it bad. He will be so mad. I take in a ladled breath; it ends with a small, lost, last clutch, like a rock dropped on a plate.

A final summer grasshopper, late for death, scissors from somewhere onto a dry branch. He turns, clumsy, and flips to the white concrete, a zzzzaattt as he flies. Alive in my strewn grass bits. I grip more grass with my pale, handsome, mucked-up toes, and teeter above him. I rain blades. One lands on the crinkled skin of his fat jumper leg. He sits, solemn-eyed. He moves a bit, then he's gone, a blur in the shade.

I put my hands behind my head and sweep the torn grass away with my clumsy foot, my inattentive leg, my tinker-toy hip, until there is no proof, and all is clean.

Four more hours 'til Dad. He'll want to see the pile. I better get busy. It's the belt either way.

A fat prairie fly buzzes by.

I tongue the inside of my swollen lip, the loose tooth behind it. I spit: a red circle, a wet, red dime fringed with concrete dust as fine as baby powder, a lost red button edged in crumbly lace. I grip-foot green, pull, drop, pull, drop, and hide my blood.

 

 

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Comments

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This was a delicious memory.
a lost red button ~

...copper taste and grasshopper haste...
...at least one of you escaped the belt...
You made me remember.r
Damn that sweaty stretch of time between the "accident" and "when your father gets home." The only good thing to come of it is memory of heightened senses...And you nailed them perfectly. I so love the smell of October too.
Your writing is like a song. This song was sad. My bare feet were there with you and I was at once scared, angry and in heaven.

denese
Beautifully written. Prose and poetry in one.
A flashback with multi-sensorial back-up... so well written and so desperately sad. I remember... on both sides, and I am so sorry. Without these, would we be the same?? Beautiful. Wish I could rate it twice....
Beyond the impending doom of an abusive father, there is the glory of green grass and chirring grasshoppers. Thank you for this.
Greg: I don't know when I've read anything I could so easily taste, smell and feel (physically and emotionally) as this piece. Dire though those days were for you, their re-collection salvages memories of my own, making me the beneficiary of your remembered woes. And I can't help but hope the writing goes a step in that direction for you as well.

You write from many places, but, as I think you know, my favorite is Kansas. It's of course a place only you can visit and your readers can relish. It's the place where you suffered but also where you battled and bled and loved and fled. It's the field in whose soil you grew. Your re-creation of those days brings delight.

A childhood is a unique and precious time; if a person forgets it, buries it, he loses something ineffable and irreplaceable. Dickens had a miserable childhood that he constantly wrote about, re-cast and made art of. Orson Welles captured the essence of the search for remembered innocence with a single word and the image of a boy on a snowy slope holding a sled. You walk in those same shoes when you take us back to sun-baked Kansas.

And here, for my money, is the single sentence that captured the essence of a nearly forgotten boyhood activity: "I invent an excuse for everything I do."

I suddenly remembered how it became necessary in my life to lie, to be ready with a lie so that I could do nothing more than "goof off." Without realizing it, my boyhood recognition of the need for those lies was an early step away from innocence, into a world that had long forgotten its value. Which is why this post seems so important to me -- a reveille for readers in danger of forgetting that long-lost world of innocence and beauty and dread.
Ah to your writing, ah to Kansas. I lived there from age 9 to 15. Derby, Kansas . . . a few miles outside of Wichita. Some of my best childhood memories rooted there, in the flatness, the wheatfields, the open sky. Prairie land.
i really dig the rhythms of your writing...rated
Such tender flesh, so much cold fear. This makes my heart race with my own -- is it fear, too, or just sorrow? Both probably. Poetry, this is, disguised as paragraphs.
What happened? Did dad come home? OK I need to be more of a surrealist.

Rated

d.
I love grass smell. Weed pulling among crops and flowers. Are children doing this, now? Forceful memory unwinded well.
Wow. This was so sad and so wonderful at the same time.
Powerful, visceral story. Rated.
The sensory details that cling to memories, yes.