Rachel Richardson

Field Notes

My grandmother is not hurting anyone. Blackberry and dewberry vines
will cover all this in a month or two. King’s Jambalaya Café and the Lucky Lady
Thursday, I wrote. Call Grand Hotel Avoyelles. AAA.
My grandmother’s gas checks come the first of the month. When you
catch a snapping turtle, you have to cut the line. A book of climbers and trailers,
and the magnolias just beg. 1 SE to Marksville, I wrote.
There is this, and then there is the other thing.
Bees hiving. When you catch a snapping turtle, let it have the bait.
Leadbelly sang himself off the prison farm, and look where it got him.
Here: satin, towtruck, juke joint. Bourbon, broken tree limb, iodized salt.
She says no one’s lived in this cabin twenty years. The roof was falling
even then.
New supermax brings jobs up the road in Evangeline Parish. New
Walmart brings jobs two miles down. People want a better quality of life—and there is
this, the other thing.
The television’s tuned to storms. Stopped and looked out because I
thought I saw light, but again, I wrote, there is none.
Sweet tea at the Shreveport Club. Crepe myrtle, hidden river. Barbed wire
means no trespass. Who wants to see the menace every day?
Armadillo, armored, stiff, at roadside. Someone asked if I wore armor
when I went into the prison. I said I only brought poems.
Vine’s holdfasts slither beneath strips of bark, says the book on shrubs and vines.
Mrs. Nicholson has hired a guide to lead tours of her haunted house. My
grandmother rocks in her chair, not hurting anyone. I am driving the levee. Cut it
all loose for a turtle. Count yourself lucky with loss.
31N to Lake Martin Road. Terrace Inn 517-253-5274. A woman traveling
alone—this, and the other thing. Confederate ghost, electric chair, antiques:
people have to earn their keep.
Vines will cover all this in a month or two.
My grandmother, not hurting, my tracks on the road.
Another flood warps the tongue-and-groove floorboards and the Lucky
Lady Lounge. Walmart brings jobs two miles down.
49N to Alexandria, then home, I wrote.
The tour guide is the only one who believes in the ghost.

Rachel Richardson
“Field Notes” is from Copperhead (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011), and first appeared in Ninth Letter, fall 2006, vol 3 issue 2.