Excerpt of Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
(Page 7 of 9)
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They would insist, somewhat defensively, that travel is a requisite
of their studies in cross-cultural behavioral psychology. But truth be
told, its mainly because they are weight-sensitive. When grounded,
the dead mothers feel every footstep of every human being all over the
It was something like this when they were pregnant. Their childrens
feet trounced around inside them like so many mischievous elfin sprites.
Bubbly, they were. Effervescent when they quickened, like soda pop in
the gut. That was how they made their presence known. So lightly.
But now! The heaviness of all of them. The pitter-patter of little feet
has become a nonstop cacophony of stones.
The dead mothers travels are interrupted when something of significance
is about to happen, something involving a living child, for
example, or a spouse. At such times, they are called back from wherever
they are, whether its across the state or on the other side of the
ocean. They come willingly, without resentment.
One among them is being called back now: Aneira Hope Jones (1940
1978). She is halfway around the world, visiting the town of Pwllheli
on the Lly]n Peninsula of North Wales. Among the dead mothers of
Emlyn Springs, Hope tends to travel farther and stay away longer; but
then, shes always been different.
Hope knows this much: Her presence is required, and so she sets out,
returning to the land and the people with whom she was once one flesh.
Llewellyn Jones is teeing off. The dead are paying attention.
Rule Number One! Merle Funk barks out. Dont go under a large tree
that stands alone!
Lightning illuminates the sky. The dead fathers start counting:
One cornhusker, two cornhuskers, three cornhuskers . . .
Llewellyn is in the rough. Hope arrivesher unexpected appearance
is barely noticed by her comradesand she watches with the rest of
Rule Number Two! Fritz Bybee chimes in. Dont stay in a place where
you are taller than your surroundings!
Hes certainly played better, muses Roy Klump. He used to beat me on
that hole every time.
Llewellyns wedge shotinto the pondcorresponds with the next
thunderbolt, as if he himself were summoning the elements.
The air inside the clouds a mile to the southwest is becoming agitated.
Groggy humidity is being dragged up from the earth.
Llewellyn is standing knee-deep in water.
Rule Number Three! the fathers cry together, Dont fish from a boat or
stand on a hilltop or in an open field!
To which Ellis Cockeram adds, Lightning kills more people than all
other kinds of storms put together!
A tunnel of supercooled air is gearing up to jettison downward.
Llewellyn crests the hill to the green. He sinks the putt. More thunder.
The dead mothers join the fathers, chanting One cornhusker, two
cornhuskers . . .
Picking up his ball, Llewellyn hurries to the number five tee-off, the
highest point of the Emlyn Springs golf course. From here he can see miles
in all directionsover to his familys land, long ago vacated by them, not
sold, but turned over to more capable and less sorrowful hands. He can
see the cemetery where a cenotaph marks the place his wife, Hope, would
be buried, if only they could find her. To the north are his two oldest
children, out of harms way, he hopes, out of the danger zone. He imagines
seeing his youngest, Bonnie, on one of the back roads, pedaling her
bicycle in the furious way shes had since she was small. But no. Whatever
else her siblings think of her, Bonnie has a good head on her shoulders.
She wouldnt be out on her bike in weather like this.
Here he goes. Burying the tee. Settling into his stance.
Excerpted from Sing Them Home
by Stephanie Kallos. Copyright © 2009 by Stephanie Kallos.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.