1. Giles, Ron PhD

Article Content

So remote the route, she had to drive into Georgia and double back into the north Alabama county where her patients lived in deep mountains, on gravel roads curling by cotton patches, from which the wind swept dust into trees, brown as green in the August sun. At the first house, perched on stones about five feet above the grassless yard, the nurse advised the young farmer, who didn't step down from the porch, to put screens on the windows so that the flies would not pester his family. He claimed the flies didn't bother them anyway. I waited in the yard and watched the little girl playing with a beagle. About five, she had a scar like a red button on her forehead. Her mother, coming up from the garden with turnip greens in a straw basket, stopped beside me. When I said "Hello," she said only "Allie got spurred by a rooster," and walked on, leaving the oh caught in my throat for the blue eye spared, bright above the beagle's tongue.


We drove on into resistance, into the belief that you could not add water to powder from a box and make milk, or that the baby would die if you didn't break him out in hives. The nurse told a man loafing at a country store that it was time for him to cut a cord of firewood against November mornings when the cold caught up to the yellowing leaves, and he stretched and yawned and lit another cigarette. But the old lady dipping Tube Rose snuff and spitting into a coffee can beside her rocking chair under the oak had been taking her blood pressure pills, and the teenage mother proudly demonstrated how she remembered the right way to sterilize bottles, to test the lukewarm milk by squirting a drop on the upturned wrist. Though we couldn't find the man who the nurse feared had tested positive for TB, we met a midwife who told us about a baby she had delivered a week ago in a house that had already burned down. She heard that the family had moved on toward Rome. And she was sorry that she had forgotten her pencil to write it down, but the little girl weighed about six pounds, looked healthy, and they named her Nellie Jo or Jean. The nurse recorded the day's progress in a black book with a leather band, and we drove back into Georgia. Turning for home at the crossroads where a red barn's roof issued its command to See Rock City, we both were thinking of Nellie, hoping her father found work at the mill, and a rental house and lot without a banty rooster sidling through the sandy yard.