After I had to put my blind deaf cat down, I decided I’d better get a rug cleaner in, especially since my sensitive-nosed family were coming to attend the Nelsonville Music Festival next week. So I had to go through stuff and get other things off the carpet. In doing so, I came across a letter written for me from a co-member of a writing group at the French Art Colony in Gallipolis on August 8, 1982. Wherever Jena Harper is, I hope she won’t mind my sharing it with you. (I’m stating copyright claims for her).
“It is fitting that my 49th year should begin at a hotel bar in a dingy river town on a hot August midnight. Outside, barges push through Ohio waves, their Cyclops eyes staring straight through up-river mist. The full moon is a pearl wrapped in gauze. A car with its rear end hiked up on oversized tires struts slowly down the street, full of pride and baby faces. Parking meters stand with closed red eyes, not seeing who parks at midnight, not keeping time.
“It is cool at the bar and a sad song slides toward me through the water rings. A revolving Michelob sign glows green on the faces of the musicians, giving them a mystique never seen in sunshine. The drum rims exchange silver glances with the ice in my glass. Steel guitar strings wave in and out of my mood and fringes on a silk shirt, rising and falling with the lyrics, mesmerize me. I am drinking Coke, but I am drunk on memories, staggering over whys and wherefores. Past years lean over my shoulder and whisper obscenities in my ear. Beyond the neon signs in the window, years-to-come beckon and when I leave here, they will be lurking around the corner, staring at me with alley-cat eyes as I disguise myself as a shadow, slipping from lamppost to lamppost, hoping to pass undetected. But they will overtake me. There is no turning back. The dead-end is out there. Somewhere, just ahead.”
NOTE FROM NAN: I heard that she subsequently got married.