Echoes of Knox County
Most of us left. Leaving became the intoxicating ritual
for the ambitious. We stood like ecstatic sentries before
the calendar, counting down the days.
We sewed leaving on our sleeves. We wore it on our
faces. We stuffed family suitcases and departed with
the seductive music of the future screaming in our ears.
We walked, bused, hitchhiked to the beat of pipers piping
tunes of fame and glory—while mothers wiped tears and
slept with open eyes. We felt no sense of shame, no
thoughts of desertion.
We left for noble reasons, oblivious that our exodus
penned the epitaphs for thousands of small towns lying
beyond the borders of modern time. These communities
became forgotten burial grounds as they lost their young
to wars, colleges, and big city jobs.
Sedated by the construction of sleek new freeways,
designed to shave time between major metropolitan
centers, the rural towns of America drifted into quiet sleep.
Streets and sidewalks no longer grow slick from traffic.
Old buildings lean sadly atop doors bolted for the last time.
Small varmints assume proprietorship.
Hollow eyes, fixed now on barren space, stare
through dusty window panes to haunt the seldom
passersby. The face is that of a single merchant
still open for business.
Like a primitive Stone Age tribe, isolated from
civilization by a remote dense jungle, What remains
breathes the thin air of another time.
About the Author: Most fiction Jim writes is grounded in the place and spirit of his youth; in the shadows of Kiowa Peak, across the Brazos Salt Fork, near 4-Sixes Ranch, somewhere south of sorrow and north of nothingness. Youth for him was the 1950s, but even today, this single slice of Texas and the people it marks remain sacred.