The largest white oak in the state of Tennessee had already been cut down by the time we got there, the stump six foot across, on the far side of the lot next to where the old house stood, the one they knocked down in the thirties. They tore down old houses back then to stimulate the economy. They paid the old man some money, he hung on to the land and built a house for his daughter when she got married, the house she lived in till we bought it and she went into a home. I mowed around it for four years, piled the grass on top. The oak grain twisted into froths of grey oceans. I prized up large sections of it once, three hundred pounds a piece, levering my digging bar into rifts, splitting continents from each other. I did this for no reason. When we got ready to sell the place I cleaned out the barn and sheds and burned their contents on the stump at night. I was crazed by then, Tennessee failed, there was no way to burn the town, the mountains. The stump caught fire and burned deep into the earth for days, fire chasing down old roots, embers burning in old hollows, smoke pouring out of the ground come daybreak.
at 3:08 PM