Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rill and Nimbus

"There in the chilly and small dust which is beneath porches, the subtle funnels of doodlebugs whose teasing, of a broomstraw, is one of the patient absorptions of kneeling childhood, and there, in that dust and the damper dust and the dirt, dead twigs of living, swept from the urgent tree, signs, and relics: bent nails, withered and knobbed with rust; a bone button, its two eyes torn to one; the pierced back of an alarm clock, greasy to the touch; a torn fragment of pictured print; an emptied and flattened twenty-gauge shotgun shell, its metal green, lettering still visible; the white tin eyelet of a summer shoe; and thinly scattered, the dessicated and the still soft excrement of hens, who stroll and dab and stand, shimmying, stabbing at their lice, and stroll out into the sun as vacantly as they departed it. And other things as well: a long and slender infinitesimally rustling creek and system of ants in their traffic: the underside of the house, so sparsely lifted even at the front, and meeting the quietly swollen earth so close there is scarcely light at all in the rear: and here the earth is cold, continually damp, and in the odors of mold and of a well, and there are cold insects, sutured and plated, rapid on many feet that run in a rill and nimbus along their narrow bodies; and strong spiders here, and dead ones, pale as mushrooms, suspended in the ruins of their lives, or strong, avid, distinct among their clean constructions, still, slowly palpitant in their thick bodies, watching you with a poison sharpness of eye you cannot be sure you see, sudden in movement and swift, and some who jump: and the clean pine underside of the house, blond like the floor of a turtle, that sun has never and weather has scarcely touched, so that it looks still new, as if it had sustained no sorrow above, but only a hope that was still in process of approach, as once this whole house was, all fresh and bridal, four hollowed rooms brimmed with a light of honey." -- James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, p. 130.

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