Friday, May 24, 2013

Darling, I Listen- A True Story (for Alison) by Suza Lambert Bowser rec'vd May 14th

My wide-eyed sister discovers two king snakes- slick, black, and six feet long- hanging around the closet. King snakes don't bite but they elicit the same primal response that makes us buy a bushel of apples to bake a bunch of pies.

1769-1869 is a hundred years
1869-1969 is another hundred more.
Plenty of time for king snake couples to take advantage of Southern Hospitality in an old house
They used to call "Flowers Lot" once a county show piece- with Linden trees all the way from Germany- now just another snake-ridden antique on Route 13- the Delaware "Dual".

At night, headlights wash my bedroom walls.
Above the hurtling doppler of trucks, I hear the thin wet scrape of snakes and the dry brush of slave hands gliding up the tiny stairs above the kitchen.

The double front doors allow for white folks' coffins. The shed out back reeks of hundred year old sweat. We decide to knock it down but not before I hear the unmistakable chink of of chains and the ceiling hiss and crack of the whip. We bulldoze that rotting vine-covered hulk into sandy soil.

We also take out the kitchen hearth, the black crane and cast iron kettle but not before I note the worn marks of hands, fingers, and palms that stirred, patted, kneaded and smoothed the bread- the hands that fed.

(All this touching! Hand to wood, skin to wall!
All so intimate, so noisey!
Now my hands join the chorus; I roll trhe dough
And my fresh baked apple pie permeates the beaded beams.)

I don't fear the snakes so much; it's the ghosts that unnerve my white-descended soil. They're especially loud at night:
The whisper of black hands sliding down the treasured banister,
peeling crabs and shucking oysters,
their voices murmuring soft negro melodies.

Lying in my crowded room, I hear mice chewing electrical wires. (Maybe the king snakes will eat them, I think.)
An ancient wind rises and sweeps the eaves with sighs.
The slaves are gone, but the snakes are here to stay.
They ring my sleep.

I'm an Egyptian princess and long black fingers braid my hair.

Letters to Brad and Mary from Suza

Hello Everyone,

Here's the content, below, of the latest couple of letters we've received from Suza... we are sharing these to keep you updated. (I am adding these as a forward on the ones we previously sent for those of you who were not included and may not have received these in the first email we sent. I've also copied and pasted the content of some earlier messages from Bobbie, Peggy and Noreen with details on how best to send mail to Suza - they appear at the very end of this email.) The "new stationery" Suza refers to below is a full size sheet of paper that has three stylized horses drawn by Suza in black ink, outlined with orange felt pen and and finished off with green manes and tails. At the top of the page is a cheery, yellow smiling sunshine face peeking out from behind a white puffy cloud, which has the date written on it.  Please forward this news on to anyone you know who might be interested.

I also just wanted to let you know that I recently came upon a landfall of magazines when I was tidying up at my parents' house... they had stacks of them of various genres from the past couple of years (Better Homes & Gardens, Birds & Blooms, Family Circle, Woman's Day, Audubon, Ladies Home Journal. We also had some horse related magazines of our own, along with some Guideposts and Reader's Digest that we included). I have bundled them in large envelopes in batches of up to 5 as I believe this is the limit allowed by the IDOC per mailing. In order to provide Suza with writing paper (albeit a meager offering), I printed some random photos from the ranch on some extra paper I had here at home. I made the photos small size so that they just take up the upper corner of the page and included a short printed caption with each one. I then added a brief, hand-written note of just a couple or a few sentences on each page, in order to leave the entire back of the page and most of the front clean for Suza's use. One of these pages went into each of the large envelopes of 5 magazines. Hopefully, this will be helpful! I know that she has mentioned that she "shares" or passes along to the other inmates whatever she has to spare... I figure that if the magazines aren't something of direct interest to Suza, that maybe they will be of interest to someone there, anyway! My hope is that in some indirect way this will make life a bit easier for her. We plan to mail one of these large envelopes of magazines to Suza every few days or so until they are all mailed out.

Brad & Mary

Letter Dated May 5, 2013

Dear Brad and Mary,
Happy Cinco de Mayo to you! As you can see, I'm developing new stationery. I hope you don't mind the "horse" motif! I'm certain the you do't because you both are truly "horsie" people - broken ribs and all!
Speaking of which, are you mending, Brad? I hope you are and that you are seriously considering not falling off the horses anymore!
Thank  you so much for sending the mags, Mary. They were lovely, and, After I finished drooling over the Southwest, I handed them over to some very grateful fellow prisoners.
I'm writing at a table where a woman is receiving one of the favorite ministrations here in prison: she's having her hair meticulously corn-rowed by another woman. (Neither of them are black!) Many women corn-row their hair (or have someone do it for them.) Sometimes fair-skinned suffer from very pink skin when the rows are extremely tight. I have decided not to undergo this procedure... needless to say, and although there are many tattooed gals here. I've decided I never want to see a noter printed forearm or neck tattoo again - much less ever get one.
Having said that, there are many kind and decent women in here - I'm finding that whatever God had decided for e, I am doing all kinds of service, teaching, counseling, praying, and doing portraits.
I hope you and your kids are well, brad and Mary, and especially, the charming and handsome Lincoln!
I bet you're enjoying him!
I leave you for now with love,
(She's drawn a cross with a heart on the middle of it)

Letter Dated May 12, 2013
(The "stationery" this letter is written on has one of Suza's trademark pen and ink drawn horses frolicking in the upper left corner and another one standing peacefully in the lower right corner - both are a light brown color with long, flowing, bright golden manes and tails. The date is written in a white, puffy cloud with a happy, yellow smiling sun peeking out from beside the cloud.)

Dear Brad and Mary,
I think my letter crossed paths with yours, Mary. (Isn't it a little crazy for me without email?) Oh yes! Still, I did receive your nice letter and the $100 you so generously gave through JPay. Thank you so very much!! I'm out of envelopes, so that will really help a lot! (Oh yes, please, kindly do not send any stationery or stamps, etc. I think I sent some back - this process is a little weird involving slips, disbursements, etc. Oh, yes, I'm remembering now that I did sent them back. I hope you got them OK. I never see what it is, you know? I simply get a pink slip saying that I've received something (stationery) I cannot have.) I appreciate the kindness, and I'm sorry it's so weird and tedious! I always say, If it doesn't make sense, it's "prison logic".
I'm glad to hear you are mending, Brad - and that you are "out 'n about." It's not fun to be bedridden and/or limited to the house. I'm sure I don't have to caution you to be careful healing! (I remember your mom at a couple of rodeos in Ione saying that she couldn't help but just close her eyes at a couple of tense moments! (With those huge bulls!)
The horses I grew up with were psycho, to say the least! And I was kicked, bitten, and thrown on a regular basis - when I came in all dirty and crying at nine years old (no one supervised my horse activity - ever!) my mother would simply say a couple of sympathetic oohs and ahhhs! My dad would say, "Go out there and get back on." (Which I did.) The worst fall was off a very large workhorse named "Willie". I was bareback - he spooked at a bird, and I flew into the muck. It was a lonnng way down! But, a nine year old is far more elastic that a mature guy like you, Brad! (Altho you're still a spring chicken compared to me!)
I have to tell you that I admire you both for staying active and for your horse activities... nothing keeps you young like staying active, and horses guarantee that.
Someday, I hope to introduce you to my beloved Tally. (She just finished teaching a horse seminar over in Auburn.) Before that, she did an endurance ride of 50 miles or so on some mountain in Mexico (10,000 feet). She's also involved in working for cow ranches out in the Mattole (Lost Coast) near Ferndale. (She also wants to do Tevas.)
Looks like I'm running out of trail here! Once again, bless you and thank you for your kindness to me... and I know you'll end up getting back on the horse the threw you - a wiser cowboy!!
Lots of love,