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5.9 Embedded Thoughts: Fun With Grammar

from "Foundations of the Earth"
— by Randall Kenan

Of course they didn't pay it any mind at first: Just a tractor—one of the most natural things in the world to see in a field—kicking up dust into the afternoon sky and slowly toddling off the road into a soybean field. And fields surrounded Mrs. Maggie McGowan Williams's house, giving the impression that her lawn stretched on and on until it dropped off into the woods far by the way. Sometimes she was certain she could actually see the earth's curve—not merely the bend of the small hill on which her house sat but the great slope of the sphere, the way scientists explained it in books, a monstrous globe floating in a cold nothingness. She would sometimes sit by herself on the patio late of an evening, in the same chair she was sitting in now, sip from her Coca-Cola, and think about how big the earth must be to seem flat to the eye.

Here are the next few lines from "The Foundations of the Earth," by Randall Kenan. Read them aloud, emphasizing any verbals that you find.

She wished she were alone now. It was Sunday.
"Now I wonder what that man is doing with a tractor out there today?"
They sat on Maggie's patio, reclined in that after-Sunday-dinner way—Maggie; the Right Reverend Hezekiah Barden, round and pompous as ever; Henrietta Fuchee, the prim and priggish music teacher and president of the First Baptist Church Auxiliary Council; Emma Lewis, Maggie's sometimes housekeeper; and Gabriel, Mrs. Maggie Williams's young, white, special guest—all looking out lazily into the early summer, watching the sun begin its slow downward arc, feeling the baked ham and the candied sweet potatoes and the fried chicken with the collard greens and green beans and beets settle in their bellies, talking shallow and pleasant talk, and sipping their Coca-Colas and bitter lemonade.

If you like what you've read so far, look up in your library Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, in which you'll find this story and others by Randall Kenan.

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