The old road lies in another country, in an older South. Broom sedge and seedling pines chew voraciously at the roadside ditches. Malignant green kudzu masks toppling tenant shanties, rusted barbed-wire fences, brittle old telephone poles, whole sweeping miles of lunar roadside landscape. Cotton fields here are smaller, scantily tended, leached much of the year to blowing pink dust; 1930s iron bridges span tea-colored creeks with names like One Stump, Hellpeckish, Booger’s Water, Coosaula. They are tributaries of the deep-running Oconee River, which powers the textile mill in Sparta and a dozen towns like it, on its leaping journey to join the Ocmulgee and create the Altamaha at the fall line. The creek names are the harsh and homely place music of the Piedmont.
The naked earth is seldom visible along this old road, thatched as it is with sedge, pine, and kudzu. The pale dust of the fields and ditches is not the true color of the earth but the color of fatigue and decay. The earth is littered crazily here: with cement-block houses and grocery stores; with one-pump filling stations attached to wailing road-houses and evil-smelling rest rooms; with ancient, gap-toothed family graveyards; with sagging power lines and county road signs bleached by decades and pitted by the showered gravel of pickup trucks and tossed Pabst and Nehi bottles. Along this road only Jesus saves, only Coke adds life.
-Anne River Siddons, Fox’s Earth