Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Loretta Lynn of Narcissus
A unique — and welcome — anomaly to my traveling encounters has two parts: a gender transformation and a digit. I pass on Jacks Creek Road every school morning at 7:50am an older maroon Subaru wagon with children in the back seat and “Got Jesus?” on the hatch door. Whenever I wave, a whole hand lifts from the wheel in return, but it is not the solo finger wave I receive. A staccato move repeated three times comes from all the fingers, led by the protruding middle finger. It’s a flirtatious move as Scarlett might make toward Ashley. It might be a Southern affectation, but the hand might easily be replaced by a fan in a French drawing room at Versailles. Behind the hand, framed in this maroon window, is a smolderingly beautiful shock of coal black shoulder-length hair, couching a pale white complexion. She has the look of hard times, but still the softness of a fading youth — a country & western singer that performs only for herself and only on her own front porch. Her heart seems larger than could possibly be held within her diminishing frame. In spring and summer, when the sun rises early in the east that she faces on the road, dark glasses are clapped over her eyes. But in winter, when animals are on the move before the sun wakes up, dark burning eyes peek over the upper arc of the steering wheel. I get the impression that she doesn’t get out much, perhaps only to shuttle children to the elementary school, and to church on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. She is so predictable, so punctual, so dependable, that I become concerned if we are not waving at the appointed time every morning. Finding a safe means of social intercourse, if only for a moment when nobody but God is looking on some lonely country road, might distinguish herself as an individual, separate from her routine familial functions. How different and braver than the woman in Texas! This woman is not completely bound by what others might think. She would not pass by a bleeding man on the other side of the road, even if his wound was only emotional. Her heart makes her curious of all things beautiful, a higher law than her world or her necessity might allow. Maybe her God lies in that paradise outside herself that draws her heart to it — to a flower, to a mountain, to a friendly wave from a simpatico on the road. She is the Loretta Lynn of Narcissus.