Misdirection.  Once you learn of it you have a lot to learn.  And I know now what my father was saying.  About getting righteous.  A righteous anger.  Where only hypocrisy makes you a victim—a dangerous sort.  You must feel that gall.  That hurt of seeing an evil soul—to feel it.  And it’s after you’ve been lost.  Like I was.  Under the shade of that tree when that old Ford pulled up.  I was lost because I wanted something.  And it’s just funny that when you’re seeking truth you find lies.  It’s funny that when you’re seeking how you’re surrounded by people ready to sell.  And that gall—that gall you feel—is that you’re ashamed of it.  You’re ashamed and they’re not…  Once you see that you have a choice.  Because buying means selling.  And only a child wants to buy without selling anything.  That’s the world.  Only evil when you’re ready to sell and you still feel guilty.  But of course it’s not called that.  You’ve just learned a thing or two.  You may have been lost once.  You may have bought a few things.  But you’ve wised up, and now you’re ready to sell…  I just didn’t know.  I was in a world where children are still treasured.  And when that old Ford pulled up at a crossroads—Mississippi 1937—it wasn’t just Rosie Soledad in the back seat.  It was Bethany Lebeau.  It was that misdirection.  That loop back in time.  That linear regression.  It came from that fear of being a child.  Stubborn to sell.  And I saw it again looking for Franklin Meeks at a crossroads in that river bottom, the American Bottom, my pregnant wife sick…  And I wanted to call it good.  I wanted to deny how animals greet each other.  That first look into the back seat window, seeing Rosie Soledad sitting there, that blink that made it Bethany, Ol’ Scratch asking me if I wanted a ride.  Maybe because I wanted to believe there was no enemy, my history a conflict to that belief.  My purity lost in it…  Once you’ve been lost you don’t want to be lost again.  So you give up—you give up that purity—and then it becomes easy.  Just talk to somebody for a few minutes.  Ask questions.  It’s not that hard to make someone look stupid playing that game—that child’s game of truth or dare…  But then there are artists.  The good ones.  Not the ones with best sellers and a family.  They diffuse the situation.  They blow it up in your face.  Not your knowledge—your wisdom.  They make you see what you sold and you hate them.  You hate them because they make you see love, and not the world’s love—it’s conversations in eye contact—why I immediately liked Franklin Meeks when I met him and he looked down—no, they make you see what’s sacred, and you do what comes natural—you draw them close.  You draw them close to belittle them, and they let you.  But this not weakness.  Not might makes right.  You just want to taste of what’s free, so you can remember what you already sold, and since they’re free they let you do that.  They visit your prison, knowing the door is always open…  Maybe that’s what I saw when I first looked through that back seat window.  Maybe that’s how I saw my wife.  And it gave me my direction.  On healing her and healing myself…

–David Threnody, on coming to the American Bottom—from his journals 1966 to 1975

 

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