I think that the house by the graveyard was the second house we lived in when we moved down South from DC, but I have no memory of the first. When we moved into this house I was wearing plaster casts on my legs from surgery on my feet to reset the bones so I wouldn't walk (so) pigeon-toed. My father would carry me outside and sit me on the bench in the yard. This is where I met Wayne and Wendell, the boys next door who were always fighting. The first time I met them, Wendell had an eyepatch and Wayne was chasing him around the yard. Wayne finally caught him, threw him on the ground and bent his legs in unusual ways to hurt him.
My brother would wiggle loose during diaper changes and escape to the yard, running around so very free. One day we went to Dipper Dan's and when we got home, B licked his ice cream and the scoop fell to the ground. He picked it up but it was covered in dirt and pine needles.
I started first grade in this house. My hair was very long and wavy with bangs. We had a succession of small plastic boxes of Mexican jumping beans. I hid my potatoes in my napkin. The floors were wood. My parents had a waterbed.
Another neighbor boy from down the block used to pee on our porch. Whenever I would find him there he'd run home, always faster than I. One day, his mom had the screen door locked. She stood in the kitchen, laughing at him as I beat him on the back with my balled-up fists and he cried. "Serves you right!" she said.
My bedroom window looked out on the church's graveyard. Wayne told me that when it thundered, it was the Devil beating his wife. I never slept easily there and sometimes I'd wake to my door closed and be afraid to get up and open it again. When I'd ask my parents, they'd swear they hadn't touched it.
My brother had a coconut cake for his second birthday. I hated coconut and didn't eat any. We had a poster of Richard Nixon in the kitchen. His head took up most of the poster, his face bright red, his body tiny and unnecessary. I studied this poster hard the night my father told me to take an adult vitamin I couldn't swallow. Finally, I hid it under my tongue and spit it down the sink drain when he walked out of the room to check on my brother.
In this house by the graveyard, I had a really great umbrella. It was clear with accents of red, white and blue. For my birthday, I got a Barrel of Monkeys and pink soap on a rope. My mother worked during the day at a drugstore. My father worked at night, but I don't know where. He slept in the morning and I played with my brother, trying to keep him quiet. Then my father would get up and get ready. We'd walk to my grandparents' house and then he'd walk to work. When I would get thirsty along the way, he'd tell me to put a pebble under my tongue.
I'd put on my full slip on Saturday mornings and play Isis while we watched cartoons. My brother would play Hercules. We'd jump around from sofa to chairs and save the universe.
In the house by the graveyard, I used to lie in the yard under the big tree. One day I was laying there, looking up at the sky through the branches, and I felt the curve of the earth. I felt the earth turn, just for the shortest, smallest moment.