She was an ordinary, quiet, and plain old woman, but her modesty and simplicity betrayed a wisdom and vision that only comes from years of listening more than speaking. The dirt under her fingernails expressed a truth that no man could contest.
She rocked back and forth in her chair, the dry wooden boards of her porch squeaking to her rhythm. She spoke of these waning September days, running Hell-bent into the cold of October. I watched her old boots and dirty socks move in time; they make an odd fashion complement to her old flower-patterned cotton dress.
“Was a time,” she began to speak, “When this was when we took a rest, we’d get dressed up nice and fine and go dancing, and we’d eat off fancy China plates. That’s before all the money was gone, and the soldiers come through taking everything they could eat or steal or fuck.”
“This time of year, the hay is in the barn, and the apples is in crates and all them winter squash and potatoes is down in the root cellar, and a body could sit back and enjoy the fruits of our summer and look forward to the next year.”
She pauses as another caravan of heavily armored trucks loaded with men in uniforms rumbled passed her porch, kicking up flumes of heavy red dust. The dirt made the old woman cough and swear, and she stood up, walked out to the road and raised a fist, a few soldiers laughed. She picked up a rock and threw it, but the trucks were long gone, and the rock rolled away and off the road and into the knee-high grass.
Sitting, again, and using her palms to scuff and beat the road dirt from the pretty marigolds and bluebells on her dress, she said, “There was a time, ‘bout now in the year when the fields was all gold and dry, and some was full of pumpkins, and every tree, especially them maples and oaks was the color of fire: all oranges, and reds, and one could look back on the harvest and forward to a bit of rest. Now I can’t see back nor front, I’m just looking down and wondering how it all come to this so quick.”
“Was a time,” she spoke quietly, with a fear in her voice, “When I’d take comfort in seeing them soldiers. That time has passed.”