Y’all, I feel like I’m having an affair with this book. Mayhap I’m cheating on y’all. The guilt has gotten to me–after all, you folks were the first ones who validated my Southern voice and let me hang out a spell on the net. Therefore, for my beloved readers and friends, the following is the first (unedited) page of Boondock Witch (had to get permission/legalities in order first):
The day that I realized my fingers could manipulate molecules and charge fireflies into a sacred dance is my first and most resilient memory of Southern summers in Alabama. I grew up with red-clay stains that were like a second skin on my heels. I grew up surrounded by “Amens” and hand-caught catfish frying in cast iron. I grew up in a land peppered by wooden crosses nestled firmly beside plastic Santas in the pines along county roads. These images are tattooed across my bones: big, kind, hard-worked black hands rocking me to sleep, goat stews over giant kettles and slices of salted watermelon running pink blood down small, white knuckles, planks set out for cloggin’ and fiddles lined up, precariously, against the wood of a front porch while the sky changes to indigo and chases the mosquitos back into the wind. I am Southern, from birth to death. But, laws, that ain’t all.
I stand beside you in Aisle Two at the local Piggly Wiggly, my younguns kicked the ball with yours every fall and my home was the first one you brought those trick-or-treaters to in October. You know the house? It’s the one with all the pumpkins and hay bales, glittering black with cobwebs in candlelight with the front porch light on and all the best candy. I’m the one broken hearts run to—all ragged and rusted—for advice when that man runs off with some harlot, or your baby gets knocked up all improper, or something just “don’t feel right” in the house. You know me. I’m in every town here in the Deep South. I am your councilwoman, your postmaster, your fifth-grade teacher—and sometimes—I’m your youth minister. And even as you have always known my presence here on this sacred land, in your sacred hearts, I’m the one you vote hard against, pray for and deny, over and over, as a natural occurrence within this haunted, too-tightly noosed Bible Belt. You’ve guessed my name, yes? Has it gnawed somewhere in the back of that tongue that has also chewed chaw, gossip and fatback? I’ve grown weary waiting for validation. My soul is tired of hoping that, someday, you will open this closet door out of love, respect and kinship. It’s a nice enough little box, complete with brooms and drying mugwort, that you have fashioned for me. I am your forsaken secret, an uppity abomination of your carefully crafted institutions . . . and this disinheritance has done damage to my holy blood. I fear that the time has come, my sweet sister South, to speak that name you have sewn up so tight and deep into the tapestry of your mystery, your history and your memory:
I’m a Witch. No, that’s not quite right, is it? I’m your witch, the keeper of your dreams and the administrator of your desires. And I’ve had about enough of this political exile. Guess who’s coming to dinner? *
*The above text is copyrighted to Seba O’Kiley and may not be reprinted without permission. (Although, re-blogging is permissible.)