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Brick red radish red heat red heart red


        Layers of the earth: crust, mantel, outer core, inner core. Crust is soil. Soil layers: O, A, E, B, C, R. You step on O layer soil and have O type blood.
        I went home and my grandmother gave me a brick hammer. The brick hammer was my grandfather’s. My grandfather was a carpenter. Some of my cousins are stonemasons. They probably lent him the brick hammer.
        Anne Truitt published a diary, Daybook. She flies on a plane and looks out the window. She sees the curved edge of the earth and says, “The straight lines with which human beings have marked the land are impositions of a different intelligence, abstract in this arena of the natural.” Her sculpture would be called “abstract” and probably “minimalist”.

        Mechanized farms use power harrows to till the soil. The metal plates of harrows draw straight lines on the earth, tracing somebody’s horizon.
        Anne saw “a carved wooden bench honed to honey color by weather.” Outdoors paints color in totality: as process, as a metric of time and material truth. A complete record of moments. Every variable is accounted for in the hue of house paint.
        Straight lines and colors are abstract and minimal ideas.


        Soil is composed of differing percentages of silt, sand, and clay. The soil of the Shenandoah Valley, my home, is full of clay.
        Anne’s first experience with how things were made was watching the mysterious fires of brick kilns. Many years later, she made large colorful monoliths, mostly in proportion with chimneys. They loom: a person could fit inside. Four walls, a roof.  Almost a home.
            Lover! I picked a heart shaped radish for you out of the no-till beds we made a month ago.

        Brick hammers have a chisel instead of curved claw. The chisel end is for scoring and cleanly breaking brick or stone. Bricks are individual units of building, but even they must be broken down. The earth is not straight lines, and this must be accounted for in building.
        In rocky soil, vegetables deform as they reach for nutrients. The ideal of radish is Round-Hard-Red Root. The ideal of radish has forgotten the reality of rocky soil. My radish is heart shaped because the earth took its sedimented fists and squeezed it.

        Anne’s colors are from memory-feelings of place. How was the sea? How was the sky? How was home? She returns to the shores of Maryland, where she spent her youth, to answer. “But,” she says, “what I remember is clearer to me than what I see today.” 
        It is getting colder. Radishes can survive frosts as deep as 26 degrees Fahrenheit. The green leaves will wither gray, frost burned, but soil insulates, and the root remains hard red.
        The colors of the world change all the time.

        My stonemason cousins are named Randy and Rick. My grandmother says they make good fireplaces. It is getting colder. A good fireplace is hard to beat.
        Your lovely warm hearth.