A new day is rising. A faint pink glow signals the coming of the sun. It rises like a great red lamp, tucking itself into a thick line of dark grey clouds. Below, the Gulf of Mexico is wide and flat like a piece of slate. The water rolls calmly into shore, one slow, gentle wave after another.
The hard, imaginary line of the horizon is broken by a far-off row of trees growing on a barrier island out in the distance. Sea birds fly down the beach, and their bodies become black shadows against the painted sky.
I have traveled South again, here to the place where my stories were born. I have come to witness another kind of birth altogether; the tender majesty of a new life coming into this world. This child’s story is just beginning. What twists and turns will the plot of her life take? What amazing qualities will combine to make up her character? The magic of new life crackles in the air.
I am very near the place where my own daughter was born. I wonder. Does the earth know her here? Is some part of her left behind in this place where she began?
On the night my daughter was born, the earth cast its shadow across the moon in a lunar eclipse. It glowed reddish orange as it hung against a black sky. In that time and that place, it seemed as if the entire universe made way for her. I felt time stop and shudder beneath me.
Whenever I am here, I feel the weight of great age hanging in the humid air. This place thrums with the beat of a million long stories.
I love the raw, wild beauty of this place. I love the variety of life and the green, lurid shapes of things. I love the people, and the voices, and how the very land shaped these things and gave them form. It is for all these reasons and more that I have set my collection of short fiction here along the Gulf Coast.
The connection between place and people is palpable in the South. It is woven into the very threads of the souls who live here. The wetlands are alive with the rhythm of the water as it moves back and forth across the land. This environment is swirling and volatile.
Paradoxically, this place remains very much as it has always been. It moves, but does not change. The alligator still swims in the bayous and the rivers as it always has, the undisputed King of Mississippi.
The sun arches over the Gulf as an ancient cycle rises and falls, carving out the shape of this place.
The people who live in the South are also shaped by these forces. Old things root themselves in the ground here and stick like thorns. Old ideas rust in people’s minds and stay there, lodged in place.
I have found that the good and the bad are in equal proportion, in this place and all others. Despite its flaws, or perhaps in spite of them, the Gulf South possesses a soul of the most elegant nature. It is hard and rough and beautiful and shiny and fast and slow. It is all of these things at once, huddled against each other.
I seek this truth through my writing, weaving this place into my words.
Do you share my affinity for the Gulf Coast? Let me know in the comments below!
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Head down South and check out the Gulf Coast for yourself! See the sights, meet the people, and immerse yourself in this singular place. While you’re there, don’t forget to try the fantastic food this region is famous for! Check out the resources below and start planning a trip!