House without Windows

 

House without Windows

House Without Windows

Acrylic Painting by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

The Painting was inspired by the quote below by Nadia Hashimi and her book House Without Windows.

 

“Children always forgive their mothers. That’s the way God’s designed them. He gives them two arms, two legs, and a heart that will cry ‘mother’ until the day it stops beating.”

― Nadia Hashimi

The Passing of Time…

 

cropped-pat-charlotte2.jpg  Charlotte and Patricia

1957/1958  –  2010

 

The Passing of Time…

What can one say about growing old? The loss of shape, hiding beneath many layers of clothing, sparkle gone from one’s eyes. One is no longer beautiful in the eyes of others. The function of one’s body grows weaker, sitting in that doomed place with little human contact. The sunset-glow in the beginning of each day is gone. Dreams escape the demented mind, as does the ordinariness of each day.
There is certain knowledge within the fog of the mind of the aged; those long ago youthful days may flitter across the closed window. Nonetheless, the prison door never opens the walled-in prison unknown to most. It is the last stage of life, frozen within and quite, a phantom of themselves, a hollow ghost. Whom can we blame?
No longer, a figure of delight, no longer surrounded by the sweet smell of one’s self. Like the snow-covered winter landscape, life is stilled, a shadow of one’s self. Life from the womb begins a painful story, a stormy world like summer winds and rain. Beauty spent and done, despite Hells rage now silenced by the passing of time. With the eyes looking, pass what lies ahead, bondage no longer a threat as the mind realizes it will only end in death.

©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

The Sinkhole…

 

The Sinkhole…
(A short-short story from a collection of memories from the author’s childhood)
The summer of 1943, my family became the proud owners of a “newer” icebox; the old one became rusty with the tiny leaks that allowed water to escape. A block of ice bought from the regular Saturday trip to town wrapped in burlap kept to ice cool all week, by Saturday morning the burlap wrap, which southerners called a “toe sack” lay in a lump of water. My grandpa and the one old mule we owned pulled the old rusty icebox to a sinkhole in the pasture. The ever-sinking hole was round as big as a house, the walls slanted toward a bottom that provided an ever-ending change throughout the year.

As children, my sister Billie Wayne and I knew not to go near the sinkhole, that it may sink into the earth and we would never be seen again. Of course neither of us we afraid of it! It was also the summer that my ten-year-old sister convinced me that she had a new place for me to play; excited I ran with her into the pasture and jumped right into the sinkhole. My only sibling always played her never-ending spiteful tricks on me; with the promise of playing “train”, she the conductor and me the passenger, she shoved me into the old icebox and shut the door. I could hear her laughter as she ran out of the sinkhole.

One would have thought that my grandfather would have turned the old icebox face down, but he dumped it, watched it slide into the hole and rode away; it landed on its back with door exposed. He was my daddy’s’ father, the one who ran off leaving him and his mother when he was just a boy. It was our mother who forced my daddy to have him come see us, she taught my sister to call him Papa, in time I would only refer to him as Mr. Johnson.

I do not want say that my sister shut me in the icebox on purpose, but as the years went by I did wonder if her constant tricks, comments and bossiness was in wanting to be an only child had anything to do with it? Of course, my mother wanted her to be the only child as well.  As a family, we had established our pattern for family life…my mother would always have Billie with her and tell me to run along with my daddy while she and Billie planned their day. Daddy tried to remember how long I had been gone, he begin to calling my name, even getting the old dog “Buster” to look for me.

Mother tried to reassure him that I was out in the woods somewhere; Billie Wayne continued cutting cookie dough without saying anything. My grandfather got on the old mule and headed into the nearby sugar cane field knowing that I sometimes stole a bit of sugar cane to suck on. Yes, at barely four years old I would play in the fields and woods, a wild child so to speak.

The grandpa was moving slowly hoping I would hear them calling my name when he thought of the old icebox. It never entered his mind that he might kill that old mule by running him so fast in the hot Alabama sun, but he jumped off his back, sliding down into the sinkhole. When he jerked open the door that I was blue, he hollered for my daddy while blowing into my mouth; now who would have known that he knew CPR. He didn’t he just wanted to get air into my lungs.

Daddy saw grandpa riding across the pasture toward the sink hole; he knew instantly that something was wrong he had never seen the old mule move so fast. Daddy rode across the pasture on Red, the big roan quarter horse hooves pounding the earth, Buster barked, it would seem even the animals knew that a threatening cloud had settled over the old Hamilton Place, the farm my daddy worked.

Daddy jumped into the sinkhole pulling me from my granddaddy’s arms, he climbed back upon Red leaving grandpa behind, and he rode to the gully where we went for water. Coming out of a big boulder was a stream of cold water, almost as if it had been frozen and was melting; it flowed into a rock where time had formed a bowl before it lapped into a small creek.

Daddy ran tossing me into the ice-cold water, there is no explanation for what he did but the cold water shocked me into breathing. I would like to think that both God and Nature had a hand in keeping me alive that day through the hands of my daddy.

When daddy carried me into the house the first question my mother asks had I been swimming in the Pool’s catfish pond again. Daddy told her what happen, while daddy placed me on the bed my sister and I shared; mother continued to chastise me for playing in the sinkhole.

“You have got to stop running the woods and pastures, you should try to be a lady; more like your sister” She looked toward my sister with a pride.

I raised my head off the pillow long enough to see Billie Wayne smiling and when no one was looking she stuck her tongue out at me!

Billie Wayne passed away in 2009 at the age of seventy-six years old; we had become sisters and friends only the last thirteen years of her life. I maintained the relationship until she stops speaking in 2006; it took be those thirteen years to find out that she had never changed.

 

©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

Wild Mountain Rose…

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Wild Mountain Rose…

There is a legend up on Mossy Ridge that children hear while listening to the old folks weaves their tales around their supper table at night – About…

Two gentle spirits walking the rutty mountain roads under the mystical Tennessee moonlight.  These stories begin many years ago about an old Cherokee and a little girl he called his Wild Mountain Rose – Folks …

First, saw her drinking from a cool mountain stream all legs and dirty yellow hair abandoned by her family so the stories go, but no one is sure of that, if the truth were told. The first time the old Cherokee saw her, she was sleeping under a bush folks call the Mountain Rose – Afterwards…

She was with him no matter where he would go. Folks would say that without old Willie Youngblood  she would not have survived – Willie…

Knew that without her, he himself would have died. The years went by quickly and they both grew old, time had touched their hair with gray – They…

Could only dream about their younger days. One cool spring morning Willie woke to find her gone  from his side, he sat for hours head hung low as he cried – Later…

He found her lying peacefully she had died there on a soft bed of leaves, a mournful death chant was the only way the old Cherokee knew how to grieve. Now if you know where to look it is in the Tennessee Mountains where Willie Youngblood’s Wild Mountain Rose can be found – Beneath…

The damp rotting forest floor in a shallow grave up on Mossy Ridge near the entrance of Chicopee Cave. The following winter Old Willie died and they buried him next to his Wild Mountain Rose – Folks…

Say in the moonlight two ghostly spirits can be seen sitting on the banks of Chestnut Creek or floating along the rutty mountain roads. When the sun comes up they disappear, or so the legend goes, but everyone on Mossy Ridge knows that it is Old Willie and that golden haired pup he found those many years ago, His…

Wild Mountain Rose.

 

eam

 

The Cost of Freedom…

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Ancestors have served in the military for more than 150 years, all served their respective states with pride. Even though the Civil War was for many reasons both good and bad, all were still soldiers with many giving their lives for their beliefs. Although the poem written at the bottom of this narrative are in fact my mother’s brothers; these boys served in WW I and the Korean War.  The ancestors are Murphree, Roberts, White,  and Vest; members of these families have served in American Revolutionary War, Cherokee–American Wars, Creek War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict. I also want to honor my son and say thank you for  your service in the United States Air Force.

The Cost of Freedom

Standing in what looked like a sea of white as a warm afternoon breeze touched their bronzed faces three young men rode home in an old wagon through fields of cotton unaware that their youth would soon be forgotten.

There was a time when they were three babies crawling at their mothers feet waiting patiently for warm sweet milk and tea cakes luxuries in their world, a poor mans’ treat.

Their mother insisted they go to school and discover their own dreams she vowed at their birth that her children would not break their backs or sell their souls working as poor farmers in the cotton fields planting, hoeing and picking the south’s white gold.

Eighteen, nineteen and twenty years old, they had never known anything but working the red southern soil day after day sacrificing their mothers’ dream for very little pay.

Threadbare overalls shirtless and shoeless they stopped at the dirt road leading to the farm they called home knowing that this way of life was quickly to end their decisions saddened their father broke their mothers’ heart leaving it so crushed that it would never mend.

They reached a nearby creek at setting sun sipped on moonshine laughed had one last day of fun then left for home. It was no more than a shack but supper always a feast for kings then they crawled into cornhusk beds it was a hard life but a life where they knew that they belonged.

Then one winter day it all changed as proud Americans that wore their pride like armor there was no question they would answer the call, not only for them but also for us all.

It was early morning when their father stood quietly drawing on his old pipe under the old oak tree thinking of the warmth of the coming spring while their mother sat in her rocking chair afraid of what the future would bring.

One by one they walk out the door childish faces broad smiles shinny shoes starched uniforms. Three young men proudly walked down the old dirt road that day no one knew when or if they would ever return but these young men knew it was to defend freedom an endowment blessed with the day they were born.

Mother and father held each other as they slowly walked into their home and closed the door while their three young sons walked away straight and tall ready to fight a war in a land they did not know on a faraway shore.

The window of their house proudly displayed three gold stars the days gradually turned into years their mothers’ heart had stopped beating death had finally stopped her tears. Their father grew old as he walked fallow land alone with his life consumed by his many fears.

Then one day as he stood beneath the oak tree drawing in the smoke from his old pipe while thoughts begin to drift back on his life. He wondered where it had gone but knowing that their mother at last is happy that her young sons were finally coming home.

He stared down the road as three shadowy figures grew closer would he recognize them he could not even remember how long it had been. Their youth was gone their smiles were drawn the war returned his sons now three broken and scarred old men.

 

Author’s Books on Amazon.com
Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

With Death comes Freedom…

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A short-short story…Freedom
He was a young man, bitter with his life and he did not suppress his tongue, life was arguments and questions. He needed no prompting; his waking hours seem devoted to causing weeping. He rarely laughed; he had a skill for creating pain, even in his passionate moments. His joy was to reign over his human possession, his wife. She would cease to have a will of her own, she was afraid and she obeyed.
To serve, to have no mind of her own, she too thought he owned her. Women were mistresses of his heart, yet there was no freedom for his own wife. She was not his equal, when he was with her his words brought new-bleeding to her heart. He was only satisfied when he drew blood, his appetite for hurting never ceased.
Their vows he had broken thousands of times. His mouth foul and dishonest, an adulterous heart beat within his broad barrel chest. The past, his youth, his suffering, maybe at the hands of another. Had this brought him to this day? He was not true or kind; he felt no shame in the bruises he left behind. Among those who knew him, he could do no harm; these people did not know him.
She had not asked for pearls or rubies, and she did not ask that her blood be shed. His moods released terror in his path, and his wife lay like twisted metal after it had met with deadly winds. She felt no worth, or equalities, only the wrath of his sickly attempts to have her go mad.
His affections never tender. His wife like a lamb at the altar of his desires. Spirits sought her, he kept them at a cold distance, and it was he and only he that owned her. The scars of battle went unseen, she was a caged animal. His victory did not make her weak; her bosoms may belong to him as he drank from the fountain of her youth. Her discipline held by grace, she vowed to never give in to the bond he commanded.
She tore loose from those bonds screaming, “Your fist no longer stings, my stomach no longer will live in knots, and my body will no longer be confined. Your torture inflames my spirit; I no longer cringe in shame. I will no longer suffer the pain; I will no longer live in shock or fear. My heart breaks, God did not design for it to be this way.”
She asks herself did my torturer have a soul; did he take an oath with the Devil? She did not weep, she did not cry, she did not show fear, “It is the last time,” she thought. She was not aware of the time that he poisoned her, but she knew now that she was going to die. He would never let her leave him, with her face covered with weeping water, one could barely hear her moans, and she could not escape the tragedy of her life. She will fall into a sleep from which she would not wake. Her final thought danced across her dying mind finally, she was free.

 

©2018.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

Author’s Books On Amazon…
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_8?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=ann+johnson-murphree&sprefix=ann+john%2Caps%2C221&crid=RM5ALVGUNEEB

Black Feathered Angels…

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Black Feathered Angels…

I have enough memories from the past to last me for the rest of my life. My unstinted memory will not bury them so deep that I cannot bring them to the surface in a moment’s notice.

In the deep recesses of my mind, I see a small country church, a chorus of crows; the splashing sounds of the brook running through the Birch trees. The wind caressing the colossal row of Oaks in the field. All memories from my early days.

I see death, going down a road moving away from the weathered house of worship, a wagon pulled by six black horses, followed by black feathered angels. No longer will the water beneath the Birch taste fresh and cool, nor will the winds surrounding the Oaks embrace warm flesh.

I relive a sad memory, my great-grandmother’s heart has been silenced, and the rocker on the porch stilled, no hand wave’s goodbye anymore. In a cobwebbed corner of the room where she slept, the sun shines through a cloudy window, as the image of tattered curtains dance in a nearby mirror. Everyone we love soon leaves us.

Sitting on the steps of that old weathered church, I have but one memory and that childhood is dead.

 

©2018elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

Author’s Books On Amazon…

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_8?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=ann+johnson-murphree&sprefix=ann+john%2Caps%2C221&crid=RM5ALVGUNEEB