My boyfriend lives on a farm. He farms soybeans and corn. The deer like to eat his crops. We hate the deer.
The corn is so high and pretty and it’s tasseling right now and we walk through his land and he stops to peel a piece and we each take a bite. Then he chucks the remainder into the rows and rows, so far you can’t see.
I follow him, watching the sweat pattern on his back. It looks like a butterfly, I tell him, like a Rorschach butterfly but a little girl would say it looks like a banana because they only see bananas. And then, a few minutes later, the butterfly is gone and it’s nothing I can identify.
What’s it look like now? he asks.
You know how a cloud looks like a perfect sheep and then it moves and looks like nothing but you keep trying to make it look like something? It’s like that. And I feel like I’m being too metaphorical, like I’m trying too hard, but he says he knows.
After that he takes his shirt off.
I watch my feet, wondering if I’ll see a snake, if one could bite through the leather of my boot. I try not to think about snakes because thinking about them so hard might make one appear. I look at the birds and the chickens that roam the property during the day and go back to their coop at night (if they don’t get eaten by coyotes). It is very dangerous out here for a chicken, my boyfriend tells me.
Though I’ve spent most of my life in Mississippi, I have never known farm life. I’ve never known what it’s like to pick blueberries and put them in my yogurt in the morning, to pour honey over the yogurt that a backyard hive has produced. What’s a Mississippi girl good for if she doesn’t have much of an accent and has never lived on a farm? If she’s rejected these things her whole life, same as she’s rejected Faulkner and Welty, Elvis and the blues?
As a kid I used to wonder why I was born here. Out of all of the places, I thought, why here? I would think about the prettiest, most popular girls in my class and find contentment in the fact that they had been born here, too. And on the weekends we’d drive over to Tallulah, Louisiana, where my cousins and grandmother lived, and I would think, Yes, God, yes. You knew exactly what you were doing.