Running Through the Corn

I used to capture dragonflies, carefully securing thread to their midsection without harming them. Tie one to each finger, and pretend they were my own private jet force. Nature’s planes. All flying in different directions. Usually causing me to let out a periodic yelp and scream of surprise when one would wildly hit me in the head. The power I held over these captured toys seemed unlike other definitions of power. Mine was self-made, and enjoyed for it was mine. It was not given to me, expected and then abused.

I stuttered around people when I was young. No one, but Mama had enough patient warmth to relax me enough to allow me to get an entire sentence out. Usually my speaking attempts were shot down by an “awe, stupid!” , from my brother Joe. (in mid-flight). Of course… Little brother, never did anything “right” in his eyes. My foundation began to grow roots without me knowing it. Insecurity plays hardball with children.

Joe, had a glow. Surely I’m not the only one that has let this driving desire to do better than him,enter my life. Maybe someday, I’ll find out that the feeling is mutual.Then again, there have been many “some days”, come and gone. When will I know which one to claim? Better yet, who is going to tell Joe that I’m analyzing him in this great novel of myself. I guess, he will just have to read this one day. Ha! I finally got one up on him. All of you are my witnesses. Joe is the older brother. He makes the right decisions. I never do. Why sure, I’m the baby. I keep getting reminded of that.

Well, I didn’t always follow. Many times, I would play in the fields around our home. Grandpaw had fields and fields of corn, turnips,cotton,and soybeans. I was always on the lookout for that one place that my cousins, (my closest friends), and I  could claim as our own. Away from the older ones, away from school, the rules, and anything depicting the outside world. We needed our own escape always. A game we came up with one hot Louisiana day really has no name. We called it “running through the corn”, the corn, probably called it, “screaming naked heathens on the loose”.

This was it. We all lined up all in a row,and then each of us would claim the stake to a dirt row, between the high stalks of corn. One row. One cousin. Digging your toes deep into the cool dirt, the moistness would sometimes touch the soul. The object was simple. Strip of every stitch of clothing. Run as fast as you can to the end of the row of corn. Take either a left or right, turn , running back to the starting end. You would often times be neck and neck with an unexpected cousin in all his or her glory. Get to your pile of clothes, put them on first, and proclaim to be the winner. Usually there was no need for argument, because most of your opponents tripped, or buckled from laughter, all the while, hiding the embarrassing reality of having all of your closest kin sprawled across a cornfield, in broad daylight! ….. Naked!

All fighting over ownership of underwear, socks not matching on anyone’s feet, and shoes pulled on with not one shoestring being untied first. The last one dressed, of course, was the loser. Loser?, What? By then everyone had such a good time, and laughed so much. The results were unimportant.

We had all won. We had all played our game, once again, without getting caught. I love my cousins.

(writing about the 60’s in the 90’s)


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