Healing Wound

Miles Moody

Boone, United States

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Healing Wound
By Miles A Moody

Cannon House at Stonewall Jackson Training School, abandoned and left to the elements, the building slowly disintegrates. Fresh snowfall and encroaching vegetation appear to be engulfing the structure as if to accelerate its destruction. Overcast and snowing, a day like this can easily bring on the doldrums where overactive imaginations run rampant and emotions plummet. I walk the row of abandoned buildings, my eyes drawn to abundant collapse and decay to explain away the dismal feel of the place. Were it nightfall, I would have looked for the arrival of disturbed apparitions to haunt my vision along parallel lines that my emotions were taking.

Stonewall Jackson Training School, the first juvenile detention facility in North Carolina was constructed in 1909 as part of a reform effort at a time when boys as young as ten could be found alongside adults in prison ‘chain gangs.’ Groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the United Daughters of the Confederacy had lobbied for twenty years to raise the funds and influence the legislature. It was considered a progressive institution in its inception. During the depression many families left their younger children here to ensure better provision, education and skills training. It was for them a place of hope, of refuge for children at risk of starvation.

I walk past a derelict cottage with a sign over the front reading ‘Daughters Cottage,’ likely a reference to one of the instigating women’s groups, ‘Kings Daughters.’ Windows are open into rooms strewn with a previous century’s refuse. I can’t shake the feeling hounding me, like any minute a sound barrier will shatter to the muffled break-through of sobbing children. Once such a beacon of hope, what has become of it now? I look about me at leafless trees, barren limbs heaped with snow, my ‘winter of discontent,’ is all around me and longing for its dispelling ‘glorious sun.’ A melody plays in my head preempting Sarah McLaughlin’s lilting voice in a song ironically appropriate to this occasion:

“You live in a church,
Where you sleep with voodoo dolls,
And you won’t give up the search,
For the ghosts in the halls.
You wear sandals in the snow,
And a smile that won’t wash away,
Can you look out the window,
Without your shadow getting in the way?” (from ‘Building a Mystery’)

Is there anything of substance here to cause what I’m feeling or is the look of this place simply conjuring up the ghosts of my unrequited past? A sense of the answer won’t emerge in my understanding for a number of months. I’m too close to the issue – it’s too personal. There’s a vibration from the past stuck here in this place to mirror the energy of my own unresolved trauma. I’ve found a ‘kindred spirit’ of a wounded child borne variety and all I know to do is remain in the feeling, not judging it, until it passes. I continue on my way, recording some images into my camera; it’s like I know somewhere deep inside that I’ll return to these pictures and find the answers I don’t have today. There’s a feeling of authority, and misuse of that authority; women may have inspired this institution, but it was men who operated it (continued with Refuge) ©2010 Miles A Moody All Rights Reserved. Please kindly refrain from duplicating in whole or in part this writing and/or photographic work without my written permission.

Nikon D90, 20 mm (Nikkor AFS 1.4D 20mm), F/11, 1/000 sec, ISO 100, handheld, Old Stonewall Jackson Training School, Concord, NC, USA (the property is now under the control of preservationists; however, no such activity is presently underway).

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