The Legend of Kudzu Cottongloves
Kitty Cottongloves lived on a plantation in the South. She had a very very tired old
mama who just might up and die any minute. Least that’s what Kitty’s papa always said.
Kitty had tight little brown curls all over her itty bitty little dispro-portionate head,
and she had soft little brown curls popping up where she knew she was going to be a
woman soon. Mr. Borden at the feed store wanted to marry Kitty, but Kitty’s papa said
she ought not to marry anyone with a boil on his nose.
One day Kitty climbed up on the kitchen counter to get the maple syrup and fell
right over backwards onto her head. “Lawsy me,” said Kitty’s Mammy, “but you sho’ do
know how to make a old Mammy’s heart leap right up and pay ‘tention.” She had herself
a gangsta boyfriend and loved to make fun of the Old South.
Kitty’s papa was worried about Kitty, but nothing seemed to be broken and pretty
soon Kitty was busy being as contrary as ever she was.
One day when Kitty’s curly brown puppy, Kudzu, was trying to teach Kitty to herd
cattle but Kitty thought he was playing fetch, Kitty’s confusion decided to take her puppy
for a picnic to the old swimming hole.
When they got there, Kitty’s puppy was way too excited. Kudzu was all over the
place. Kudzu was rampant.
Kitty was busy looking at lilacs and morning glories and clover and the rich brown
scum on the surface of the water. She was busy putting furniture in her imaginary new
house in the woods. For these things did become of her that perused them.
And poor Kudzu. Suddenly by being everywhere, Kudzu was also nowhere at all.
Finally Kitty stepped out of the imaginary house she was living in and could not see her
puppy anywhere and she searched and she searched, but no soft little puppy curls
emerged from the primeval greens and browns of the misguided picnic excursion.
Kitty looked and looked and then she looked some more, and several days later a
big bald-headed black man with a soothing voice found Kitty and took her back to her
papa and the doctor put her right to sleep.
When Kitty woke up, Kitty’s papa was there and he had some bad news about
Kitty’s Mama, but Kitty just wanted to know, “Where’s Kudzu? Where’s Kudzu?”
Nine months later, when the nurse shaved Kitty to have her baby, Kitty looked at
the tight little brown curls falling on the floor and started crying, and she didn’t stop until
her baby boy took over the crying and sure enough, his pink little head had the
ever-so-faint start of even tighter little brown curls on it.
Kitty never did remember who the baby’s papa was and she never did fall off the
kitchen counter again. But baby “Kudzu” knew and imitated the stranger in all his
features although he never spoke of him. No one ever really understood how it happened,
but Kudzu was everywhere and sure enough Kudzu grew up to be the new owner of Mr.
Borden’s feed store where he hauled fifty pound sacks of feed around all day on his
curly-haired back till he was sixty-eight years old.
And Kudzu Cottongloves II became a very famous boxer indeed. But of course he
changed his name. Wouldn’t you?
And Kitty? Kitty lived to be seventy-nine years old and at the rest home when her
younger son visited, she would say, “Where’s Kudzu? Where’s Kudzu?” and she wouldn’t
sound sad one little bit. Everyone at the nursing home thought she was going senile.
And one day after his Mama died, Kudzu Junior looked in the mirror and laughed
and said, “Where’s Kudzu?” and the very next day he was dead. They buried the little
bugger right next to his Mama and the leaves on all the plants by the graves turned brown
and curled up tight like little brown hairs and fell off.
That’s when little Kudzus started popping up everywhere and the bunch of them
just kept on making themselves over and over again and damn near strangled everything
the way too many babies prit near always does no matter what color they is. Leastways
that’s what the first creepers say and they’s a lot a creepers, a whole lotta creepers.
Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.