You best quit your ghosts, I hear my father saying. Focus on what’s here rather than what’s in your head. Do your damn work, Roscoe.
“All right, Pa.”
I respect his words just now, a truth in them I couldn’t catch before. Here in this barn with my hands bloodied by meat scraps and dusted with bonemeal, my nose stuffed up with the stink of it–here I can see why he took such comfort in those veins of coal. They were tangible, as were the coal cars and the mules and the men. They could be touched and moved, nothing like the slippery current running through the wires I so admire. His coal was like the corn in the fields or the cows in the barn or the dogs in their pens–solid things we can feel with our hands and see with our eyes, smell and hear and taste. There’s relief in that sort of integrity.
I’d like to tell him I understand.
— Virginia Reeves, Work Like Any Other