NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 118

“Be Vewy Vewy Ouiet” By HERMINE PINSON Before I went in to dinner, I sat on my back steps and popped my second Prexylin of the evening to go with my first cigarette and my first beer. To the naked eye, the lawn gave the illusion of a checkerboard. I could have hired someone, but I wanted to work with my hands, as my father had done when I was growing up and he mowed our backyard in Hampton and yards all around Newport News, really, wherever someone needed a yard man. For fifty years, he made the homeliest, most unkempt lawn trim and shapely. I liked the idea of working so hard that sweat sealed my shirt to my back, although in day-job in my shirt and tie uniform, a “brother on the corner” would not necessarily call me “brother.” 116 I finished mowing the lawn before the sun exited and the moon blinked on. I had labored so long I didn’t even notice the moon reclining like they say in storybooks. I was cutting grass with a flourish, in in broad stripes, making parallel passes back and forth over the moles holes, ant crab grass, following the natural slope of the land, going down to the far end, near a tangle of trees and foliage. Then, with equal flourish I used an industrial a roller to go back over the lawn at a right angle, until the bent tips of grass blades looked darker than the straight ones, creating the patterned effect. I almost chortled when I thought about it, plaid grass! After twenty-five years with Haggis Pharmaceuticals, I could afford to hire someone like my father, with his roughened palms, calloused and permanently stained by grass, motor oil, and dirt, but it felt like a betrayal of my origins. Before his death, my father often visited me and complemented me on my success, my spaciousness house and lush yard that went on for half an acre in the back. He’d been gone a year now. I thought about my last conversation with him. “Billy, you sure you can handle this yard, son? You think you can do all this by yourself, what with your job?” said Pop. “I have someone to come and cut the back yard beyond that stand of trees, when I don’t have time to get out there.”