She squints her eyes tightly remembering her mama’s song about the forest. Now, her mama is long gone, and she is a grandma. She has not thought of the song in years, but the tumble into the windshield bangs out her old melody.
Move through the woods.
She opens her eyes to a burnt sienna sunset mainly blocked by trees. She tastes copper. She has bit her tongue in the car accident. She moves her mouth in quiet prayer. She can’t hear her holy words over the song in her head. She looks to the strange man on the side of the road for help or explanation.
Steal quietly home.
“You must have stolen something,” she says.
“Nobody had nothing I wanted,” he says.
Finally she finds herself saying, “Jesus. Jesus,” meaning, Jesus will help you, but the way she says it, it sounds as if she may be cursing.
Who is Harriet? Her mother’s name is Bernadette, named after her daddy Bernard. Both are dead. One in a drunk driving accident; the other of brain cancer. Both deaths carry their own shame and are not spoken of.
Follow the northern moss.
She looks north and sees the family car empty and lying in a ditch. The windshield has circles within circles cracked. The most inside circle is brown red. She remembers the color of the Virginia red clay of her childhood. The stains never go away—of her youth in the dirt.
Beyond the trees,
She looks to the trees and notices their autumn reds. She smells their dying. She sees the path left by her family and the other men through the brush. She dimly hears three pistol shots over her chorus’ final line.
Is a field of salvation.
Hiram and Bobby Lee return from the woods and stand over the ditch, looking down at the grandmother who half sits and half lays in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child’s and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky.