until they forget the words. Like Cora, who could never even cook.
She would tell me what I owed to my children and to Anse. I gave Anse the children. I did not ask for
them. I did not even ask of him what he could have given me: not-Anse. That was my duty to him, to not
ask that, and that I fulfilled. I would be I; I would let him be the shape and echo of his word. That was
more than he asked, because he could not have asked for all that I could give, using himself with a word.
And then he died. He did not know he was dead. I would lie by him in the dark, hearing the dark land
talking of God's love and His beauty and His sin; hearing the dark voicelessness in which the words are the deeds
and the other words that are not deeds, that are just the gaps in people's lacks, coming down, fumbling at the deeds
like orphans to whom are pointed out in a crowd two faces and told That is your mother or your father.
I believed that I had found it. I believed that the reason was the duty to the alive, the terrible blood, the
<bitter> red bitter stream [running?] [illegible] the earth. I would think of sin as I would think of the clothes we both wore
in the world's face, of the circumspection necessary because he was he and I was what I was: not as a [part?]
of us. While I waited for him in the woods, [watching?] him before he saw me, I would think of him as dressed
in sin and of him as thinking of me dressed in sin, which we would <remove and> have to remove and make
of no moment in order to shape the terrible blood to the forlorn echo of the <ded> dead word high in the air.
Then I would lie by Anse again, — I did not lie to him: I just refused, just as I refused to suckle Darl
after his time — hearing the dark land talking the [illegible] and voiceless speech.
I hid nothing. I tried to deceive no one. I would not have cared; I merely took the precautions that he
thot necessary, not for my own sake, but just as I wore clothes in the world's face. And I would think then
when Cora talked to me,
[margin: of sin <— [mine still seeming to be?] the fact that I did not sing in church>
of how the high dead words in time seemed to lose even the significance of their
Then it was over. Over in the sense that he was gone and I knew that, see him again tho I might, I would
never again see him coming to me thru the woods dressed in sin like a gallant garment already blowing aside with the
speed of his coming. But for me it was not over. I mean, over in the sense of beginning and ending, because to me
there was no beginning nor ending to anything then. I even held Anse refraining still, not that I was <[reshaping him?]>
holding him recessional, but that nothing else had ever been. My children were of me alone, of the wild blood
rushing along the earth, of me and of all that lived, of none and of all. Then I found that I had Jewel.
When I <rem> waked to remember to discover it, he was two months gone.
My father said that the reason for living is getting ready to die. I knew at last what he meant, and that he
could not have known what he meant, because a man cannot know anything about cleaning up the house.
And so I have cleaned my house. With Jewel — I lay by the lamp, <watching h> holding up my own head,
watching him cap and suture it before he breathed — the wild blood flowed away and the sound of it ceased.
Then there was only the milk, warm and calm, and I lying calm in the slow silence, getting ready to clean my
I gave Anse <a child> Dewey Dell to negative Jewel. Then I have him Vardaman to replace the child I
had <taken from him> deprived him of. And now he has 3 children, the children that are his and not
mine. And then I could get ready to die.
One day I was talking to Cora. She prayed for me because she believed I was blind to sin, wanting me
to kneel and pray too, because people to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is
just words too.