Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mrs. Mary's Legacy: The Front Porch

There's an aspiring young writer in Greene County.   Actually, she's at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, finishing up her second year.  Two years ago she came in (cause that's how youngsters do that are familiar with the way things work around here) and joined me for a glass of sweet tea, handing me her high school senior creative writing paper.  This post is it, unedited, but for the spelling of the dog's name correctly.  I bawled.  Her dad says I've mentored her;  it'd have to be unknowingly.  The gurl has always been near and dear to my heart and I didn't know, until reading her paper that she was of the same mind.  With her permission, I'm proud to introduce the writing talent of Miss Sarah Elizabeth Storment.

Mrs. Mary says "heyy girl-fren" when I walk into the kitchen. Her back stays towards me, so I know she's making another cake. "Going to the porch?" She's such a bad hinter. "Mmhm," I say, "If you've got some tea." I pretend to sulk, but I love the porch. I lean into John Robert's doorway headed out, but he's in the shop, so I turn the rusty doorknob, kick the door, and trip over a plant on my way out.

Mrs. Mary works for Wade the Florist sometimes, and it's apparent, because hanging ferns clog the porch's fringe. I love them in the summertime - they cool the porch for me. I can smell the road from there: in the summer, the sprinkler brings a smell of heavy heat up from the concrete, and blows it in my face, along with sweet wisteria and stale smoke. I can hear the radio inside the house playing Rod Stewart. I set my tea glass on the painted table and stretch out on the swing.

Some afternoons JRob comes outside with me, and the ice clinks in our glasses and makes me feel at home. Mr. Mike comes out while I'm writing, sometimes. We both like our privacy, so he sits on the steps and grumbles and smokes to himself, and mumbles and smokes. Even Mike makes me feel comfortable because he complacently fills his role of lazy-ass husband. His cigarettes smell good to me.

The porch swing is my seat, but Beaudeux the dog is very ornery, so he loves to crowd me out. He pouts when I push him down, so I dig my bare toes into my curly foot prop, and pinch him when he shoves me. It seems like someone is always on the porch - but that's a good thing. People help hide the house's imperfections. If Andy's there playing his guitar, no one notices the paint flecks on the big windows, or the fading blue floor paint, or the grime on the coffee table.

There is always cake batter, beers, and neighbors; especially when Mrs. Mary comes out with her sunshine smile and long gray hair. She is so like me - or I'm like her: I can't figure out which one. Sometimes I ask "Aren't you baking for a big party?" And she goes inside and plays the piano beautifully, because I'm a bad hinter, too. JRob is working on his monster potato gun, so there are occasional explosions from around the big house, and sometimes he yells "SHIT!" really loud.

I love the porch. Any warmth of friendship that I lack is always regained there, because Mrs. Mary and the citronella candles have enough to spare. If I was a stranger walking by, I'd stop and stare, just because the big old house breathes its warmth onto Mrs. Mary's porch.

It's front porch weather, y'all grab a neighbor and enjoy!


  1. beloved doesn't surprise me one whit that a young mind would be inspired by you...and be lucky to do so...this is great!... congratulations to you both!...

  2. Yep, bawling is the right word! Mary, This young woman is talented, and you have offered her a chance to develop her gift. It's nice to know that you inspire so many - no age limits, either! This is so sweet. <3

  3. Your mentoring shows in every word :)

  4. Oh, this is beautiful, and the photography is stunning! Thank you for sharing this wonderful young lady's writing with us! :)
    ~Joy from Yesterfood