by Nancy Posey
Of the two sisters and five brothers, only the three living boys were around when Pa Posey’s land in Franklin County sold. Timber speculators had been after them for years to sell, and while they all felt a tie to their childhood, they rarely went back except to deer hunt, and they were all too old for that now. Still, before they signed the deed and closed the deal, Curtis insisted they ride out to take one last look at the home place while it was still theirs. The other boys, living close enough to ride out any time, didn’t, but since he’d moved to South Alabama, Curtis felt drawn to make the pilgrimage, as he thought of it, whenever he came back.
What sentimentality they felt were attached more to the land than to the structure still standing, though long empty. Back in 1938, when Clarence and Elizabeth were engaged to marry, Ma Posey had come into Florence to stay with her son for a while, their way of letting her get to know her future daughter-in-law and feel a part of the planning. Though she didn’t hear a word from home during her stay, when they drove her back, they all remembered their shock topping the hill to see only charred remains where her house—the real home place—had stood. No explanation was offered for why they didn’t call; evidently no one had the heart or the courage.
With little reluctance or sense of sacrifice, the two decided to postpone their own wedding for a year, letting the family use their savings to rebuild on the same spot, right on the same old foundation, and there it had stood for nearly fifty years.
Driving up, though, the sight before them was almost more daunting than the burnt rubble years ago. The porch sagged, and the roof had collapsed inward. The whole house was enmeshed, like some Southern gothic Sleeping Beauty’s castle, in a solid tangle of kudzu vine. As the others looked on, less mystified, having seen the gradual process, Curtis stepped out of the car, fell to his knees weeping, and vomited.
“You know,” Clarence said, surveying the sight through his brother’s eyes, I seem to recall back when I was in school, our science teacher sent us all home with a Dixie cup holding a new kind of plant. I wonder. . . .”
Nancy Posey, an Alabama native who now lives in Hickory, North Carolina, believes her fascination with kudzu may have come in part from her in-laws, Clarence and Elizabeth Posey. She feels certain that if her mother-in-law had ever found a good recipe for kudzu, the woman would have worn herself out canning the stuff.