Growing up in the Deep South, you are born surrounded by ghosts. Now it’s not something that is even debated or spoken about in certain company, just a known fact. You can’t throw a stone in a crowd and not hit someone who hasn’t seen or heard something, or at least knows a first-hand account of someone else’s experience. I, personally, love ghost stories, and I don’t mean the manufactured ones that Hollywood drums up to sell tickets, but the real ones. The stories that are told over cups of brown liquor at cookouts when the sun has dropped to a sliver on the horizon and all the food is ate. When all the babies are sleep in one bed and the older kids sit on porches under yellowed lights, the smell of banked charcoal, citronella candles, cigarette smoke and Budweiser hanging in the air like a perfume, giving the night an ethereal quality. Like for just this little while, your thoughts can bring ideas to action, things that go bump in the night are just outside of your peripheral vision and the stories told from the Great Uncles lips are painted in your mind’s eye with such vivid strokes, you’d swear you was watching a movie and just forgot what channel it was on.
Those stories that are ingested in the cool breeze blowing through Spanish moss and palm trees. These are swamp stories, of my few times Great granddaddy, Captain Red, being led into mangrove trees and never seeing daylight again. Or my grandmama, working night shifts as a nurse and having one those turn of the century nuns walk past her in an empty hallway. These are tales of my bloodline, that holds within it unequal shares Mansu Musu and Irish potato farmers. Slave memories that still whisper up from plantations both near and far, that speak to me, DNA deep, even here in the mountain ranges. Flawda stories that still tug on me, still I can hear the calling of the junebugs under the twilight haze, hear crickets playing songs for the frogs and fish to dance to. I can still smell the river, as it winds past the graveyard where my mama lay, I can still feel the grass under my feet. Taste the sweet dates and the bitter bullet fruit fresh off the bush. Flawda stories, full of ghosts both real and imagined and impossible possibilities.