Sunlight refracts through the shaking brownish-green leaves of Mississippi’s trees in the winter.
It’s never actually cold, but the trees and plants play along with the changing seasons. In the distance, on the other side of the house, I can hear the moaning sounds of cars on the interstate. The sound is louder now than when I was a kid. After Katrina, when a lot of their trees fell anyway, the neighbors decided to clear out some space, leaving holes in the pine patchwork that used to isolate us from the interstate.
The porch has swirls of mildew scum, especially in the corner where rainwater falls and pools. I swing back and forth, the feathery hanging limbs of the creek birch tree behind me tickling the nape of neck. The television’s surround sound from inside the house is loud enough to be heard outside.
The dry leaves of the banana tree in the corner of the yard – a little out of place in Mississippi – along with the distant mutter and howl from the dog pen across the pasture resonate like memories. The stagnant pond in the middle of the pasture (across the dam from the new pond) is nearly empty.
Just across the pasture, where all our animals are buried, I can see the sun-bleached skull of the first and only deer I killed swinging lazily from its oak branch.
After killing the deer and having its blood smeared across my forehead, my Dad skinned the deer – an eight-point buck – and hung its head from that branch years ago to let the crows pick away its skin before taking it to the taxidermist. We never got around to it and just let it hang there. Now it’s a functional birdhouse.