Now I Remember Why I Began This

by nicolecallihan

Way south of Sackett Street and this cup of tea and my red paper bird and my shiny diamond ring is this old house. It’s the one my grandmother was raised in. This is the tree that shook in the storm, the one that plastered fat leaves on the windows, the one no one even bothered trying to climb.

After coming in from the Brooklyn rain and wringing my t-shirt out in the sink, I couldn’t figure out why I started this thing–The Blue Pitcher–what it even means: to be blue, to be full or not full.

Some time last fall they cut this tree down. Henry River, North Carolina might never be the same, but I wouldn’t even really know it, haven’t done much of anything but drive through it. Not too long ago, though, we were there–Dad and Linda and me–staring at the tinroofs and the slopjars, the peeled blue bonnet wallpaper and the graffiti: “You bum of chicken shit,” sprayed on one wall, and then the more (or less) traditional: “Fuck Satan.”

“Let’s skat,” dad said. I was looking at Linda’s reflection in a pane of broken glass; she was spelling “kudzu” for me as the kudzu piled around our legs. You wouldn’t think that vultures would really be on the powerline, but there they lurked. We searched for homeplate in a field of trees; then a pickup truck with two boys in the bed scared us into leaving.

We drove into Hickory to meet Lynn at the cafeteria where I wanted fried okra and banana pudding but got green beans and watermelon. On our way there, we crossed the bridge built in 1960, the one my grandpappy had the very first wreck on just weeks after it opened. Dad says it was icy, nobody’s fault, just icy.