Lauri Conner

Crum Road, Lyons, MS

Myths start like this. Mother said not to forget the red rocks.  How they crumbled with weight.  How each step turned your head no matter how old you were it was always left foot, right foot turn to see who followed.  At best you were alone and each step seemed a leap closer to where you were going.  No man-hands grabbing for female child.  Father says nightriders still wait behind the pear trees.  They know the children won’t walk off the patch of grass and house.  Sometimes, they leave hungry kittens, full bags of cotton.  Sometimes, they pick fruit and leave it cored on the branch.  Grandmother says snakes sneak out of cotton fields to breathe in our flesh.  Vinnie and I climbed poplar trees to see for sure what lies on the road.  We picked locust shells and tossed them out for bait.  They crunched when cars rolled by.  Leah asks if it’s all true:  If men raped little girls in the field; if snakes coil at the base of new stalks.  Uncle Floyd says ain’t nothing out there but dirt roads leading to other dirt roads.  I’m inclined to believe him any other time.  Aunt Gladys says a crocodile lives in the swamp by Crum Road.  Says he floats with eyes open, skimming, waiting for something to slip into his path.  The new black top won’t stop him, she says.  Yes.  It’s true.