My turn came. I spoke about an old and now abandoned Gaelic and English tradition of hiring a sin-eater to be present at the wake of a loved one who died with an endangered soul. After a chunk of bread and bowl of beer or wine were placed on the corpse, the sin-eater ate sacrificially of the offering, absorbing the sins of the dearly departed and thereby allowing the soul a possibility of heavenly immortality.
Since someday a medical test could discover within you the thing long feared, the doctor’s office might be a good setting for the beginning of this story.
Late in that very rainy autumn the good citizens of the river city of Olean, New York, debated whether to permit a soup kitchen into their downtown business district on North Union Street.
The souls of our lives.
Plush and varicolored in the rebounding light, the hawk grounded me with awe, though to the panicked squirrel leaping and spiraling from branch to branch in a rufous blur, the low-swooping predator must have seemed something like the warplane that Picasso implies in Guernica.
As life quickens by and the generations pass, stories are handed down like heirlooms, told and retold to help us try to make sense of it all.
In the lumpy region I call home, a study determined to the surprise of few that tooth disease is our most serious health problem.
It swept me like an October windstorm, my sap plummeting and years rattling and ripping loose. Although I was wearing shorts and standing amidst a seesawing cloud of honeybees, I almost expected to glimpse snowflakes.
Perhaps Faulkner was mistaken and the past really is past — bigotry little more than a rusty whip handle unearthed at the site of a Mississippi plantation.