Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Land of Milk and Honey

Julia Lee Pollock


Something about the way you held the book as you read,
and looked down at it with such tenderness rendered me helpless.
You invaded my spirit and I welcomed you there, though I knew from the start it must
remain contained, my own little secret
Instantly you moved into my soul like a song that would not go away, playing itself
over and over and over.

At first I tried to turn the song down but it played louder
so I embraced it
and it serenaded my days and my nights, for it was the song I'd been listening for all my life
and I felt blessed that the music had finally found me.
Some days the music played softly but other days it crashed into an aching crescendo that I hid in my heart like an
addict.

And so I welcomed my sweet obsession for whatever it was, and I embraced the enigma.
As long as I didn't give into it, things would be okay.
It was like the drink I shouldn't touch, the cigarette I shouldn't smoke, the doughnut that would multiply and melt in my mouth, only a thousand times sweeter.

My dreams grew strange. Dreams of slaughtered pigs, killed by my own hands,
then feelings of guilt over dealing with the remains after having eaten only a portion.
I'd only wanted a ham sandwich, not the whole pig.
Now I was left with what to do with the carcass, so I threw it into the river to float downstream where perchance some else could benefit from its bounty.

And the river, the river dream I'd had all my life.
The river dream became prominent: the one where the dark green waters were calm and canopied by huge trees that filtered out all essence of sunlight.
The dream always made me feel far removed from everyone else, especially myself.

Unlike the other turbulent water dreams I always had in times of duress,
dreams of being stranded out in the middle of the ocean with my small children
and no life preserver, yet somehow managing to make it to shore in spite of horrendous fears and potentialities of drowning.

I never did drown and I was proud of that. I was proud that I'd managed to get my children
and myself ashore, and I knew this indicated resilience on my part.

For if I am anything, anything at all, I am resilient.
I am perceptive and I understand things other people do not notice, much less understand,
and I am articulate and for that I am most thankful.
Words are my greatest gift, the one thing I have control over.

There was a time in my life when I could not speak and could not articulate;
yet I could feel and I could perceive and I could experience confusion from seemingly pleasant acts that were inflicted upon my young body.

* * *

Once when I was three years old a neighbor stuck his head out of his basement
and waved a handful of Tootsie Roll Pops at me and smiled like Captain Kangaroo,
and I went running to him and he scooped me up in his arms
and held me high in the air with a smile on his face as he
slammed the door behind us.

I later realized that all that felt good was not good. And so it was that when my soul became permeated by your muse and I felt sweetly possessed, I also knew there was a catch.
But I wondered:
What if I figured out a way to screw the piper? Maybe I'm smart enough to rob Peter and kill Paul.

* * *

One thing was for sure, I loved this new Tootsie Roll.
Slowly I convinced myself it was a never-ending Tootsie Roll, my favorite,
a cherry, and I prayed for a plan.
I knew a plan would come because it always did,
as long as I didn't give into anything tangible.
It was the tangible stuff that got people: the greedy chomp into the chewy middle,
the first sip of the Corona, the deep drag off the Marlboro,
the hot wet no-turning-back passion of the first encounter with a dream lover.

I am a spiritual girl who believes that when I get to Heaven I will obtain all of these pleasures,
yet I know that the irony of it all is that I won't even desire these things then
and that I will prefer to sit at the right hand of God knitting a purple sweater or
weaving potholders for my grandmother.
Still, it's a pretty good deal. A damn good deal.

***

Julia Lee Pollock writes “Random Lives,” a bi-monthly column, as well as feature stories for The Daily Herald in Columbia, Tennessee. She serves on the Editorial Committee of the Maury County Archives, and she is a member of ASCAP. Two of her stories are published in the book Muscadine Lines: A Southern Anthology. She has completed her first novel, A Southern Dog’s Tale. Julia lives in Columbia, Tennessee.

© Julia Lee Pollock

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012