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.
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
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
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
Read 81 times
Written on 2022-04-07 at 05:25
Save as a bookmark (requires login)
Write a comment (requires login)
Send as email (requires login)