and I like to fish I could smell the storm in the trees Cypress Mama said They grew here even before my people before their people some lost after the reservoir You see all those dead trees? and she pointed to where they rose like ghosts along the bank Been drought and floods they weren’t dead but they’ve been severely tested with increasing demands for water more people more industry It’s the salt too You deepen it causes saltwater to flow upriver and the river turns black they grow for centuries on alluvial soils deciduous losing their leaves in winter thus their name Bald Cypress and they can live for over a thousand years I see her knee deep in the water bent to the sun the light the Lord is my Light she is a shadow on the surface and it moves she moves and the water moves and I watch as the soapy lather in her hair falls forming deposits that come toward me her knees and their knees these dead trees similar to mangroves lowland swamp-grown found in flooded or flood-prone areas so they tend to be buttressed and “kneed” and even the hurricanes rarely overturn them They form above the roots Mama said and she is bent over like bowing down her hair over her head scaring me because I can’t see her face and I cry It’s alright, Solomon, Mama says Mama just washin’ her hair You like the smell and I smell the storm the sun gone away and dark clouds moving above and I become scared and I cry Hush now! Mama says Let Mama do her hair a symbol of Artemis the Greek goddess of the hunt young girls and the moon I look at Mama’s arms they jiggle as she scrubs she is bent I smell the soap and the storm and Mama says Don’t be afraid but even if you are God uses fear He uses what you least expect and don’t think He can’t laugh my hair is like the Spanish moss See it on them trees? How it hangs and don’t let the light in Look into it You can always change who you are the moon the moon is behind the dark clouds And I never told anyone this Mama says But your Grandma your uncle (who is dead) and I there was a woman who lived back in these thickets along this river the Sabine and she used to braid it what hangs from the dead she used it for filling for her dolls

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