Every time I visit my father's mother in Edenton, North Carolina I come back filled with stories, names, dates and images that are too much for my brain to keep inside, let alone compartmentalize and store. I could make this entire blog about Edenton and the rich layers of history that have been laid down there, and how the Capehart family has worked their own deposits into the soil of eastern North Carolina.

But I won't, because I can't do it justice. I keep wishing there was time to sit down and interview my grandmother, who at 94, is a goldmine of information about eastern North Carolina and its residents for the past 200 years or so. But my grandmother, with four children (and their spouses), ten grandchildren (and four spouses), six great-grandchildren, dozens of nieces and nephews, hundreds of friends and innumerable "adopted" family, flits as fast as she can flit between this person and this person, talking all the while. But I can't keep up. Neither with her flitting or her talking. At 94, my grandmother outpaces me.

Now that I am home, I plan to spend more time with her and possibly get those interviews I've been wanting. Because they will make a fantastic book.

For now, you get some photos of the scenery. What else do take pictures of? (Click to embiggen)

Edenton sits on Albemarle sound. Thus, there is swamp. A lot of swamp.

Hearing my grandmother say the word "swamp" in her accent sends me into fits every time. "Swaump!"

The water was the color of iodine and only inches deep.
Cypress trees. Yes this is upside-down. No I did not flip it post-production.

Swamp. And cypress nubs.

What the photos unfortunately do not give you is the smell of the swamp. Which is far more fragrant than what you'd expect. I can't describe it to you other than to say it's halfway between the smell of a forest and the smell of a lake. Makes sense, doesn't it, when pretty much that's what a swamp is.

I didn't just hang out in a swamp all day, despite what the photos tell you. I swear.


The truth

At night all my doubts and worries creep from the shadows and the shadows give them life. They whisper my fear back at me and since there is no such thing as a voice without a body, I glance fearfully over my shoulder, even though my back is to the wall, for the dark bodies with claws.
            Did I do the right thing? Did I make the right choice?
            I still wonder. I may never stop wondering that.
            And that is another set of claws, attached to long, many-jointed hairy arms, attached to a shadowy body, home to a mind that’s nothing but the worst of my own.
            One set of claws says that I did this to myself. People say “It’s not your fault”. No, it’s not wholly my fault, but nothing in this world is wholly anything. I made some decisions and brought the consequences down on myself. I know I’m going to have to pay my due. And I’m paying it.
            And I’m learning lessons.
            This is what I think about during the day, when the shadows slink and melt and the claws crumble like ashes.
            I’m learning lessons that I should have learned much sooner, that many people learn much later and even more never learn at all.
            Part of doing right by to someone else is doing right by yourself first. First.
            Other people never ever ever fit in the holes in your soul. Trying to make them fit is an injustice to both of you.
            Where you invest your love is where you invest your life. Invest wisely.
            These things, and thousands of other little lessons like dandelions fill a field I like to visit when I’m feeling bad. Their sheer yellowness is overpowering and blasts every fold of my brain clear of shadows.  Each time I leave the field I bring a little bit more of its light back with me so that the good mood lasts a little longer.
            It’s like a battery, this yellowness, but it never lasts long enough to get me through the thick, creeping night.
            Not yet.
            I know there’s something else I’m supposed to be learning, supposed to be doing, but I still don’t know what that is yet. That’s why the yellow battery runs out so quickly.
            I’m back to square one, the skittering claws and snapping jaws say. Before, at least, I had love. I had a badly-fitting but well-sewn patch for my threadbare soul. Now the patch has been ripped away and the tight stitches have taken that piece of my soul with it. Now there’s nothing to keep the shadows and their poison out.
Good thing I’m used to this.
It’s been easier this time to fight the corrupting influence of them, ironically because the love I had gave me strength and gave substance to my soul. It heals just like the body does, by bleeding, by pain, by sewing up the fabric with its own substance. But it heals much more slowly.
And the infections are a problem.
            All the while I gather the shreds of myself up and try to fit them back to where they once were. Oh but the pieces are so tiny. I’ve always been bad at jigsaw puzzles. Not bad at them, but just not patient enough.
            But I can’t afford not to be patient, or I’ll never finish and I’ll never get my whole self back.
            If only I had some other enemy than my apathy or impatience or insecurity.
            People say, “Nobody’s perfect.” People say, “Nothing’s impossible.” People say,“You tried your best and that’s all anybody can ask.” People say, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
            Which is it?
            People say, “Your decisions make you who you are.”
            I say, “Everything is relative.”
            So where does that leave us?
            A lesson I keep learning and I will never stop learning and it will never stop hurting is this:
            There are no absolutes. There are no forsures. There are no guarantees.
            That is the single most comforting and the single most terrifying truth I have ever encountered.
            And it seems to run the universe.


Hey I'm back with a poem

This is my first post here in almost a year! Also this is my first poem in almost that long.

I suck at titles.

"Sigh-n Wave"

Me minus you is
A simple equation with no simple answer.
Us minus each other is
Nothing but silence across the covers.
Two asunder is no longer one and one
But one asunder
And one asunder.

I’m so tired of these mechanical anti semantic
Idiot numbers, one, two, thirteen.
Idiot one.
Give me words over numbers, please
Oh won’t you say something
To divide this silence, to
Subtract the longing, to
Derive some sort of meaning from this negation of years?

Years minus us is time torn from memory.
Unanchored, we float in our memories of each other. Moorless,
Our numbers a poor substitute for the muscle memory of holding each other.

Time plus time will be multiplied into healing and motion but
Sorrow graphed in lines and waves upon our faces, our hearts is
A repeating decimal,
Forever reminding us of our idiot ones, our broken twos and how we
Add the idiot numbers up to make something
Not so idiot.

(C)Kate Capehart 2011