The yard at the cotton gin is filled with rows and rows of cotton bales, large as semi-trailers, each wearing its own tarpaulin cover, each bearing its farm’s initials on its end. Dozens of bales, and trucks delivering more each day, littering the roadsides with scraps of dirty white fluff. The gin sits in the midst of the bales, a small force against so many, its conveyor belt slowly carrying one bale at a time through the gin’s devouring teeth to its dim inner workings. Having passed through the gin, the cotton does not emerge as a cotton shirt, or cotton sheets, or even cotton thread. It emerges free of seeds and dirt, ready to become something, but still far from being that thing … And still the professors pile texts around my mind, though my devouring teeth work slowly, though often I cannot discern between the seeds and the valuable fibers, though sometimes I am tempted to say it is all mere fluff.
But this is October, the month in which I always come to love new places, and already the month is working its magic. A seat begins to belong to me; the faces I meet each day begin to be more than mere faces; I begin to be very glad, though cotton bales are ranged for miles round about.
Be glad with me.
Every autumn, the gin-yard is full of raw cotton, and every autumn, all of the bales disappear, one by one, through the teeth of the gin. And, though the cotton seems mere fluff on the road-sides, after ginning, it goes to make shirts and sheets and thread.