Almost No Regrets


By Guest Author Vol Lindsey

I turned 70 the other day. 70. I got here one day at a time, I can even remember some of them. The most vivid ones seem to be the oldest, those I lived in very early childhood when everything was brand new and for the first time, so, of course, they stuck with me like the bright flashes of fireworks they were.
In St. Paul Virginia, my father pastored a holy roller church full of bitter hillbillies from the coal mines. They were uneducated, prejudiced, narrow-souled folks whose lives they measured in the darkness of who possessed the juiciest gossip and passed the harshest judgement. When I close my eyes, I can still look down the hill at the little town with shops on both sides of the street. Over the years, the church as torn itself apart a multitude of times, and today, each of those shops on the left is occupied by one angry, sundered congregation after another.
I remember my dad’s bullet-nosed Studebaker where I would lie across the rear window deck and watch a universe of street lamps, overpasses, tunnels and stars pass overhead as we traveled the winding roads of Appalachian countryside. I learned to talk there, too. In those days, dad was a 6’2” blond god, my mom a 4’10” elf, and they were imbued with light, wisdom, and patience. The young ladies of the church worshiped my handsome dad, but knew better. Instead, they misplaced their desires by carrying me around, cooing and babbling and giggling, so I learned their words. To this day, language for me is associated with beauty, pleasant odors and feminine attraction, a kind of lust, if you will.

While dad built that church, laying the bricks and blocks, driving almost all the nails himself, and telling me not to play on the lumber piled out back, I spent my time wandering the neighborhood and playing with Blondie, my golden Cocker Spaniel. We would go down to the police station/firehouse behind the parsonage where the building was surrounded by a sidewalk, something our street lacked. I could ride my trike there and Blondie would chase me barking and nipping at my clothes. I pestered the sheriff asking if I could see his prisoners. He always said no, they were too mean and would eat my ears off. That time he relented, I got to go down the hall hiding behind one of his legs as the lone fellow in one of the cells snarled and pawed at me, presumably quite hungry. It was many years later I understood the real problem was that he never actually had any prisoners.
My dad was a Marine Corps veteran of Iwo Jima and too young to know how to deal with a future poet. He did not understand my unquenchable curiosity and would tell me what to do, or not do, but without telling me why. An unfortunate lapse in judgement on his part. Remember the pile of lumber I was warned about? One time, when he was gone, Blondie and I got to studying that wooden mountain and began to climb. It wasn’t long before the whole thing tumbled down on top of us so only my head and one arm were visible. I’m not sure how long I laid there before a passing soldier emerged from the ally and carried me up to the house and my mom. At this point, I have to say that most folks would lay the consequences of my transgression to my extreme youth, I was, after all, only about three at the time. But that would be a lie. I knew Blondie was under those planks and boards. I also knew my dad was a man of justice and that I had broken his law “Thou shalt not climb on the lumber, or thou shout surely get thy ass whipped with my narrow belt.” So I kept quiet and accepted the tender ministrations of mom. They had not yet missed Blondie. My dark soul knew where she was. My dark soul was in survival mode. My dark soul lied when I got the bowl of food and went outside to call her home. My dark soul has never known if she died instantly or lay under all that wood and suffered for who knows how long. My dark soul is haunted to this day. On the other hand, and to my shame, I still carry a coldness in a dark corner of my heart that has, on occasion hurt someone I love. On the third hand, I can be okay with that. Like I mentioned before, I am a poet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send Millie a Message!

Inspired by the blog, a story, or an artwork? Don't hesitate to contact Millie to discuss a writing or creative work or just to have an enthusiastic conversation about the world!

Get in touch

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.