East Vineland, New Jersey, 1930

By: Michelle Reale

Genoa Avenue and an expanse as temporal as a bad memory.  Jews and Italians shudder in the sun. The cultivators.  The scorned.  Everyone with a purpose. Even the sister with the lame leg, pushes her broom from one side to the other, dragging her heavy shoe across the kitchen floorboards until the ruts insure she’d made her mark.  The father with his hand-rolled cigarettes and his white, long-sleeved shirts made from altar cloth, bludgeoning the dirt into the submission his wife will  not accept.  Here is the brevity of commitment. Here is purification by all of the aseptic wonders of the world.  In the potato house you sleep one tender body next to another, five to a bed.  The Legion of Mary followers regularly collapse and cry at the vision of hell fire and deprivation while the Jews laughed like the condemned they would be.  The harvest will be good every year, the fields the blessing of the undeserved.    An unfurling of misery. An unfurling of mercy.  A revenant who shows himself in the light of day.   A tincture for everyone afflicted in equal measure.

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