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It's Magic Here

You might find it somewhere around

6:30 in the evening

in August

when the heat and humidity

stop kicking you in the stomach

for a second

long enough for you to appreciate

how quiet and still

everything is

It's in the woods out here

somewhere along the Pinhoti

in the guts of the Talladega forest

or in the middle of one of those

abandoned pastures

in the backyard of the county

that you can't really get to

except by a road no one takes anymore

It hangs out around the draw strings

of your mother's apron

when she's in the kitchen

chopping carrots and peppers

and everything smells like fried okra

stewed squash

and chardonnay

It's at church, of course

the Baptist ones

the Methodist ones

Holiness and Church of Christ too

or anywhere else folks show up

to try and taste or hear something

that they've never been able describe in the first place

I've found it in-between the cracks

that've formed in the old, majestic architecture

in downtown Montgomery

(that useless swamp)

and in every ghost story you tell folks

the ones you're pretty sure aren't real

but you've repeated so many times

you believe them anyways

It moves across the loam

with the snakes on Sand Mountain

and rises with the dead

through the soggy dirt and shattered tombstones

of all the rebels we once called heroes

I can't think of a better way

to explain it to you

it's just magic here


I have friends in New York

who like to say

"It gets hot here too, ya know."

and maybe it does.

but not like this.

Perhaps in meteorological terms

the dew points and highs

might line up from time to time

but down here

deep in the heart of ol' Dixie

the heat is alive and conscious

punishing and relentless

forged from the sins of our fathers

and sent to us with malicious purpose

it will drench you

and possess you

and crawl up your nostrils

down your throat

and bleed out through your pores

It can kill

and it sometimes does

But what they don't tell you

is that

if you want to survive

you can't just hide from it

you have to embrace it

challenge it

on those July days

when it's 98 degrees in the morning

and 100% humidity

you go outside anyways

and work your yard

your little piece of land

your tiny fraction of someone else's American dream

because heat or no heat

there's work to do

You don't know it

but the resiliency of the Southern people

was built by tempting God's trigger finger

resting anxiously on the thermostat

every swing of the hammer

every gash from the axe

every trimmed blade of grass

every pass with the saw

every plunge of the shovel

is just to say

do it

turn it up, you son of a bitch

because even after the world has burned

and every city has turned to ash

and the son has returned to take his favorites away

we'll still be here

harvesting peppers and cucumbers

stained in sweat

and toiling just for the sake of it


Eggs and Pancakes

I've tried my whole life

to make fried eggs and pancakes

like my grandmother

I'm talking cast irons and bacon grease

crisco and butter

the real shit that the doctor told

Granddaddy  he couldn't eat anymore

you know?

I've tried standing at the stove

and smoking


maybe the ashes?

I tried praying

at the altar of the

tiny Baptist

church she attended

my knees planted in the

musty purple carpet

while some woman plays

"Come As You Are"

on the electric organ


The eggs never seem to get that consistency

or ever form into those

lumpy little oblong figures

and the pancakes don't puff up

kinda slanted

like hers did

maybe it was a time and place thing.

like the air was different then

and all the right elements

of the atmosphere

came together perfectly

so that the world's greatest

eggs and pancakes

could be created

but only in that moment

in that place

in that time

or maybe her hands are the only pair God ever made that could cook like that

Bio: My name is Matthew Tyson ( I'm a writer and marketing strategist living in Anniston, Alabama.