Root Cellar

by Justin Bond

The rain always comes too late to make any difference. I’m tired of negotiating with the dead. The sour stench of scorched tomato vines, the ruined fruit of the people we used to be. The season has come for storing the pasts we have grown in a cool dry place until we learn to make use of them. For the gentle nodding of heads, the soft clicking of tongues at the lateness of the hour.

Justin Bond’s poetry has appeared most recently in Temenos, NAP, and StepAway Magazine. He lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

 

When I think of “root cellar,” I think of the place where Norman Bates kept his mother. What experiences do you have with root cellars?

    Growing up in Oklahoma in the 1980s, root cellars were commonplace fixtures on a lot of farms, but even then they were generally something your grandparents or other senior members of your family might have. They were used for storage, of course, and as a handy place to hide when the weather got nasty. As a child, they were pretty scary places; they were damp, they smelled like the earth. They were full of odd jars and farm tools, they were havens for spiders and snakes and the occasional bat. Exploring one made you feel like Indiana Jones or a Goonie. Nowadays, you don’t really see them. People don’t can food; fewer and fewer live on farms. They have Doppler radar to help predict tornadoes and reinforced rooms built into their homes in the event of one. Root cellars have become something nostaligc for me at this point, a facet of an idealized version of a world I remember so vividly from my childhood that doesn’t really seem to exist anymore.
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