hills

I had two hands on the land today, asking if it was awake.

—Land, wake up! I said aloud. —Are you awake?

I don’t know if it’s the land or me that was too deaf to hear. I wanted to merge with the land and feel its golden hum. I wanted there to be a pulse I could feel and since I couldn’t feel it, I was wondering if maybe it wasn’t there at all.

After all, this land has been grazed to thickets of thorn by neglected cattle. And then the land watched that cattle go unfed and uncared for until they died, their bleached bones jumping up from under the tractor to surprise my father one day. What a sight that must have been for this Korean American Yale-educated gentleman farmer whom the Virginia minister across the street thinks of as the personification of Manhattan.

I can only imagine his sensitive heart (which does exist under the tough hide he bares to me) broke a little to be confronted by death. Death at all, but in this case death of innocent animals at the hand of human neglect. Death, showing itself somewhere unexpected and so idyllic.

Well before the cattle died here, I know men died here, too. I see their ghosts walking through the high grass in Union and Confederate regalia. Not regalia because no doubt they were simple infantry men—fodder for a confusing and complicated war. Uniforms, I guess. Drab blues and greys that maybe their white bones jumped out from under at one time, as well.

—Soon, I reassured the land. —Soon this will all be planted with trees.

I stood and imagined these golden hills turned emerald green. Dozens of acres of pines and hardwoods will be planted that my dad means to stand for at minimum fifty or a hundred years. They will be his legacy for his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Thinking of that is what brought me to squat there, knees deeply bent, two hands on the ground and a welp escaping my throat. If there’s an inheritance for them, then they will surely come to exist! That’s what a part of my heart tells the rest of my still aching heart.

I looked over the rolling, golden hills. The thought that this land was for them jolted through me in a charge of emotion. What emotion? Maybe hope. Longing. Confirmation. Liquid optimism tinged still with grief.

I want to connect with the land so she can tell me if my father’s dream which is my dream will come true.

I wanted to fall asleep there in the warm grass. If we could melt together, she could have secrets or knowledge for me. I could know things beyond what I know. The land could grow time to see seven generations from now. She could tell me if I will, indeed, be walking these hills in forty years. And if I won’t be alone.

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