Saturday, July 7, 2012
Panels Toward a Reconstruction of Glass
* * * * *
Late that summer he became aware of shadows, ghostly figures flickering, blotches of black and gray stippling the lilies and hothouse blooms.
The glazier’s man had come, knocked out the cracked greenhouse panels, and replaced them with panes of glass so strangely patterned that Jefferson finally scaled the garden ladder to learn their secrets. The streaks muddling the glass, the marks and
It was the War again.
A man free and whole, he had walked all the way north from Georgia, shedding each clot of red clay as it dried, clear on to Baltimore… where he just stopped. Saying right out loud to no one: “This’d be far ‘nough.” Thinking: Lord hab mercy, some Union towns look close-on South.
Thinking: But I was actual born that first day, January 1863, when Mist’ Abraham reckon every one of us, house or field the same, free forever. An’ I know it right then. I could read some an’ shape my slave name letters too. But be free? I dassn’t yet. Bossman dogs speak louder.
“Our conservatory is rich with promise,” said Mr. Caldwell, “and my wife’s gardens annually blessed with God’s bounty. We cultivate order, Mr. Spivey; we ask that you
“Yessuh, it surely is.” But thinking, surprised: It don’t come up to home.
He buried that notion in moist loam, to toil among beech trees and roses, attending each summer’s inclinations and, within the glittering hothouse, shaping off-season riots of color from roiling orchids and flowering japonica. He made each early morning his green-up time—hard at work before the heat inside turned all hellish, and while the light (“my Southun light,” he’d insist with a grin) was all a glory. The glass magnifying yet attenuating, he’d chase that changing light day by day, packing dark soil down to the roots, snipping bits of green shoots and buds, grafting plant upon plant in unusual pairings, growing bulbs and exotics… and older, seven years almost, his life as ordered as the gardens in their cycles.
Now in the late, scorching summer, he works among wraiths…
(To be continued)