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View From the Farmhouse

The farmhouse sits on a plot of land that butts up against the Jamison plantation. The cypress trees on the west side of the property make a clear division between it and the cave plantation. The east side is relatively flat with a large field for cotton or tobacco.

The old house sits off the road a bit. A two-tire track marks the way to the barn, a large leaning shack. The barn hides in the shade of trees. The house sits in the center of the lot of land, in intense heat, come summer. The yard is a mixture of grass, weeds and dirt. Never know what you might find out there, a penny, nickel, or a lost pendent. The farmhouse is white to reflect the sun, an illusion to keeping it cool.

It is a one level house with two rooms off the back by the kitchen. The porch has a couple of old cane straight back chairs waiting for visitors. One the west facing side of the porch there is an old porch swing for sweethearts to be close and swing away any problems. The screen door is black and chipped from wear.

The door leads you into the large parlor and behind the arches there is the dining room. A long table is pushed up against the back wall. A tablecloth covers the worn spots. A large Bible rests on the table open to Psalms 27,"The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident". On each side of the Bible are cream-colored candlesticks, gathering dust, not used in a while. On the wall is a picture of Moses holding the tablets of the 10 Commandments. Pictures of the husband and wife and family are on both sides of Moses.

The wedding picture in an oval frame has faded through the years. Other frames circle the picture of Moses; pictures of babies, daughters, sons with wives, and sons and daughters with their own families, all serious looking, no one smiling. Their formal dress is plain yet proper, even if they came from meager means. White dresses for the mothers, black dresses for the old maids. The dresses are pinned stiff at the collars with ruffles at the wrists. Ruffles are worn on babies and pleats cascade down the front of young girls white dresses with shiny shoes. Sashes tied around waists and hold back neatly laid curls. The never-married stand in the back of the pictures. Alone, they keep vigil over the family. Their dress is plain, nothing to bring attention to them.

All the women in the pictures look at you and yet past you as you try to get some indication of who they were. Who laughed loud, who was shy, which one was mean and exacting, who went crazy after having Master Jamison's baby, which one woke up one morning to work the field, never to return, and who carried the family secrets? But like pieces of paper, their faces are blank. Their eyes reveal nothing, just looking past you out to the road and across it, to the plantation. Now you see why they left. There was nothing for them there but more work, rape, and hard times.

Lori Young-Williams
Revised March 26, 2009