Sunday, May 28, 2006

One memory of the old coffin factory is when I was in town visiting my grandmother. Maybe nine, maybe ten, I rode my blue bike up the street to see my aunt Darlene coming from a loading dock with a tiny coffin. "Who is that one for aunt Darlene?" She barked through her German accent, "HEADED FOR OKLAHOMA! SOME YOUNGSTER OUT THERE WHO DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE HIMSELF!" "What was his name?" "NEVER YOU MIND HIS NAME! GIT BACK TO THE HAUS CREEK!" Craig always came out as Creek in that town.

Years later my first boyfriend kissed me for the first time beside a truck parked against the factory wall. We then went to the movies, which neither of us could concentrate on after our kiss. I tried to hold his hand in the dark but he pulled away, always afraid of the Klan (a very real thing to fear out there). The kiss was terrible, but nice, I mean awkward, but he meant it, and so did I. The coffin factory was one of those odd, dark places no one bothered with unless they were working, so it was perfectly safe. My first kiss and the workers inside were fitting satin linings, assembling lids with perfectly fitted hinges. They worked so hard in there, my family and their neighbors. Hinges that didn't squeak like the horror movies, hinges that worked so well you would think they actually needed to work well for long. My first kiss has smells of machine oil and sand belts cutting the nostrils. Nothing wrong with that.

Someone has a Polaroid of me as a boy sitting up in a blue coffin, hands held like claws by my face, mouth in a snarl, trying for the horror movie everyone was so busy oiling out of the hinges. My uncle Russell said I liked the coffin factory too much. He thought I was weird, because I was, because he was right, such a smart guy, he knows a weirdo when he sees one. You weirdo! Yes, hello there. Hehehe! He probably thought I needed a good beating. Everyone thought a good beating was what everyone needed out there. "NOTHIN' FUNNY ABOUT DEATH CREEK! GIT BACK TO THE HAUS!" I liked the sound of everybody's voice when the lid was closed, muffled. And it was soft in there, a satin-lined tongue to rest on while waiting to slide back inside Earth.

The closest I ever got to the same sensation of resting inside one of those perfectly built coffins was inside a sensory deprivation tank. Have you ever experienced one of these tanks? Pounds of salt in the water, and you float with the lid shut, no light, no sound, you float and every single muscle relaxes and I say relaxes like they haven't since being in the womb. It really is the first time since the womb, when you climb inside one of these egg-shaped tanks. What a beautiful sensation, sensory cut off! Every house needs one. How much calmer I believe we would be. Why wait for the coffin to relax?

Came across this photograph and my mind started going back there,
p.s. Matt McGoldrick drove me, Frank Sherlock and Nicole McEwan out there last year. What a strange field trip! Or did I drive? Yes, I drove Matt's car, that's right. The factory closed in 1988, and years later it has recently been made into an old folks home. Seriously. And it was either Frank or Matt who laughed and said, "They're working in reverse now!" Hehehe!

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