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John Clayton

Posted in John Clayton on June 16, 2022 by Scot



The old clay bricks blend in with the rusty brown tin roof.

On sunny afternoons Turkey vultures like to perch on the peak because it is easy to hitch a ride on the breeze coming up hollow. The exhausted goldenrod glisten silver in the Autumn sun and hide the shallow well where a family of twelve got water for cooking and cleaning, except in August when the well would go dry and water had to be carried up the hill from the spring. The old house only has two rooms and a lean-to on the East side. The doors have rotted off but the green roll roofing on the sides has held up pretty good. Between the house and barn is the garden spot. It went a long way toward feeding all those kids and among the rocks, the dirt is still black.

Mom and Dad died years ago and at least 3 or 4 of the kids have passed too. All the kids grew up and got the hell out of Dodge. There was nothing here for them on this hard scrabble farm, where the soil is thin and rock ledges run right to the surface and blink in the daylight. Like most of the Ozark youngins, they left Maries County seeking fame and riches. For years they were all gone. They have started drifting back in, some with pensions earned in more progressive places and others with not much more than Social Security. At least it’s cheaper to live here than most places. There’s nobody left that gives a damn about this old place, except maybe, me, and I didn’t even grow up here.