We meet Lucinda

 

Me and Colt are out in the middle of nowhere, 

or a stone’s throw from it. 

Colt’s layin’ on the hood of the truck, 

 

back against the windshield, 

strummin’ and singin’

on moonlit nights and soft whispers. 

 

It ain’t hard to know his mind's drifted onto Laura—

those minor chords 

are a dead giveaway. It's real nice, 

 

real peaceful under the stars. The air 

smells sweet like it does 

when a rain comes after a long dry spell.

 

I pop open a couple brews, hand one to Colt.

Colt, ole pard, I say,

 

~

 

why don't you get yourself a body to sing with?

In short, a partner,

someone who can add those high notes

 

to that rumble you call a voice. 

Colt's quiet

for half a spell, and then some,

 

before he says, that ain't the worst

idea I ever heard.

Which I take to mean he actually heard me, 

 

which isn't necessarily a given. In any case, 

we got a big day tomorrow—

Mr. Stricker's got us set to mow hay come sun-up, 

 

so we toss our beer cans out the window

into the cool night air, then go and pick 'em up again

 

~

 

on account of tossin' beer cans out the window 

is tres passé.

A couple weeks of good weather go by, 

 

and we get two or three hundred acres 

of Mr. Stricker's prairie grass 

cut, mowed, baled and lined-out in rows 

 

straight as the rail line between Norman, Oklahoma 

and Amarillo. 

It’s Saturday night, and Colt's

 

playin’ down at JC's Country Bar & Grill,

which he's been doin'

since Laura set her mind to seein' that he does it.

 

He’s come a long way toward losin' 

some of that shyness that comes natural to him.

 

~

 

We’re all down there, me and Regina and Laura,

and we can’t help but a notice 

a woman watchin' and listenin'—real intent,

 

keepin' time and hummin' along with Colt, 

really enjoying the music, you can see it—

she, and the man she’s with, and they’re listenin’

 

and knockin' back whiskey and sodas 

like there ain't no tomorrow,

which there is, only Regina says it ain't whiskey, 

 

it's ginger ale, though how she knows that

I do know know,

but I do know better than to suggest otherwise.

 

It turns out she’s right, which don’t surprise nobody,

or nobody's cousin.

 

~

 

Regina, who wasn't born shy and never

acquired the habit,

goes over and starts up a conversation.

  

Colt sings a couple more tunes

about hard liquor

and soft women and says

 

somethin' low under his breath

about takin' a break.

He ducks his head just in case someone

 

throws a beer bottle his way,

but no one does.

They never do. He ain't half bad on the guitar

 

and his voice don't set your teeth

on edge like some I ain't goin' to mention by name.

 

~

 

By this time Regina knows just about 

all there is to know

about Miss Ginger Ale,

 

only it turns out that ain't her name, 

her name is Lucinda,

and her beau's name is Will.

 

Regina invites them over to the table

and introduces everybody,

and me and Colt say howdy do and tip our hats,

 

and we get to talkin' about Colt's music,

which don't set well with him,

he don't like all this attention thow'd his way,

 

only Laura sets him at ease as only she can,

and it's real nice,

 

~

 

and Lucinda tells us that she’s been lookin’ everywhere 

but the right where

for a singin’ partner. If that ain’t a coincidence

 

then I don't know what. This sets Colt’s eyes

to lookin' for a bolt-hole, 

but, again, Laura does some little magic trick

 

that sets him at ease. She says, give it a chance.

Colt can’t say no to Laura,

and he ain’t gonna start in now, so it's settled 

 

that Colt and Lucinda, Cindy, will meet in town,

in the church basement,

fully chaperoned of course, to give it a try,

 

see if they got it in ‘em to make music.

It turns out they can.

 

~

 

They practice, and before too long

find themselves

singin' and playin’ weekends at JC's—

 

that is when Colt ain't ridin' bulls

or ropin' calves—

playin' for tips and all the ginger ale

 

they can handle, and they do real well,

they don't set

nobody's teeth on edge.

 

But all that ain't what I meant to say. 

What I meant to say

is that today is Cindy's birthday,

 

and we're all set, the lot of us, to have a picnic

over at Crowder Lake, in honor of the occasion,

 

~

 

with food and beverage and guitars

and singin’ and gaiety

and fishin' poles and games for the little ones,

 

and ginger ale for Cindy, only it turns out

she favors pond water

in a Mason jar, but that's another story,

 

and word gets around about the big picnic,

and I ain't the least surprised

to see Kurtle and his kid brother show up

 

with Regina’s little sister Melody,

and here comes

Tina and Trev Jackson all wrapped up,

 

and that buzzard Chase Sherman,  

and here comes Mrs. Eliot,

 

~

 

and here comes Mr. and Mrs. Stricker

with old Sparkplug

in the back of truck, and everyone’s come

 

to celebrate Cindy's birthday, 

and eat all the hi-cal,

low-nutrient food possible, and fly kites

 

and catch bluegill and walk on stilts,

and in general

enjoy life as it's meant to be enjoyed, 

 

and we all sing Happy Birthday

and it couldn't be nicer, 

and Cindy blows out the candles on her cake,

 

and the sun's a-settin',

and the sky's all pink and glorious.

 

 

 

 





Poetry by jim The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 81 times
Written on 2022-04-07 at 05:25

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text


josephus The PoetBay support member heart!
Jim I always loved these. Is this an excerpt from the book or and addition to it?
2022-04-10


Griffonner The PoetBay support member heart!
Jim, it's a marathon, but one that rewards the reader by living those days with you. I could smell the rain after the dry spell; hear the guitar, and feel those feelings your words describe. We must all have memories of such times, but few of us can describe them so poetically as you. Well done.
2022-04-07