Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, near Compson’s Mile, and beyond the spot where Lee Goodwin was tried and lynched, I can see Yoknapatawpha County’s Red Lobster burning, all orange and white and flashing in the dark like a bottle of lightning bugs, and I say to myself, “Benjy, you’d better keep your hands in your pockets before you get hurt again, like Caddy told you to, like she was always telling you to,” but that was a long time ago, so long ago, and now everything’s changed, like when they tore down the Sartorises’ plantation house and put up the Gap store, and everyone started wearing brown pants and gray T-shirts, or when they built the Pottery Barn, which doesn’t look like a barn at all, and where I can’t listen to Queenie or Prince stomping around on the hard ground but instead can only hear some woman singing (Norah Jones, the salesclerk tells me) and see fancy things like $20 napkin rings for sale, or when Moseley’s Drugstore was replaced by a Starbucks, where I went to buy a bottle of sarsaparilla but was only able to get a gourmet root beer, and where I ended up also buying a travel mug, a piece of low-fat blueberry coffeecake, and a copy of the New York Times, or when they knocked down the trees in the pine hills to put in David’s Bridal, and how I stared at the pretty dresses in the window, white dresses like the one Caddy wore when she married Quentin; yes, everything’s different now, and I can only stand in the dark, in what used to be my pasture, my place, a grassy place that is now a cement parking lot outside the Red Lobster, as I watch the fire jump, the windows burst, and a wooden anchor tumble from the top of the building, and I can no longer smell the trees.
July 25, 2007
Yoknapatawpha County Today
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