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Veteran's Day


Veteran’s Day

Dear P.,
I drove to Richmond this morning, thinking of you. When I left and made to climb the ridgeline the sun was just breaking. You were probably sleeping. It’s late in the evening, now, and I have been home for some time. I’ve pictured you in your shabby apartment that overlooks the town, and I can see you leaning over your guitar, tenderly preparing for another night’s serenade. Or are you madly running down the streets in that way of yours when you are trying to escape the thirst you cannot slake? I can’t stop thinking about you, and it looks as if you’ll not sing to sleep for me the day you began. So I’ve decided to shake it with you, and I am gathering into an envelope a record of how the day was spent. I hope you will not mind the intrusion.

I was still inside the valley this morning when the sun broke open, its cold yoke came spilling down the mountain. And just before I gained the ridgeline’s exposing places there was a fearful shot of red inside the last hung maple cover. It brought to memory a dream. I had dreamed about a cuckoo sitting on the lowest branch of a winter stripped tree. She was spreading her wings in mocking fashion. She then uncovered a breast that was torn and thickened in red, and she turned her eyes away. But it’s funny how there was no red in this morning’s sun, nor any sign of evening’s weather. Funnier still that the cuckoo of my imagination is the only cuckoo I have ever seen.

When I reached the mountain’s eastern face, I could feel myself suspended above the descent, just before letting go. The sky seemed nearer for a moment, and early morning’s blue was biting down on the Piedmont. Yesterday’s storm was all but gone, shreds of steely gray clouds were stripping away. And stretching out below me, to the sky’s smoky rim, was the forest plateau. It was a wintry wilderness slightly tilted and leaning towards the tidewater plain. And I thought I saw a light dream down below, a daytime’s less certain sequence. It seemed to be fluttering around in the forest’s mid-distance. But then I let go of the high ground, letting go of dreams, and I followed on to Richmond. It was through the forest and on to Richmond.

I was doing another man’s job today, but it didn’t take long. I parked the truck afterwards to walk around. I was thinking mostly of you. It is your city. I walked from Broad Street over to Monument, and then to Main. What a city of layers. Then I walked to Grove Street, and as far as Carey, returning to the truck by coming down Boulevard. I walked past the gentlemen’s clubs that are hidden behind the sun baked walls of brick. And there were all of those townhouses closely standing together. I was never very far from the streets of crumpling pavement, the ones baring their shoulders of lurid neon light. And it was almost a relief to pass down slumming alleys, through the warehouse drives, and by the old storefronts boarded up. How sobering it was to realize that things are easier to see in winter, providing you can take the cold. It’s the time when distances shrink, and when close loves stand apart. But even more sobering was it to see that all of these streams have no issue and no outlet. And that they all began at some time to yearn for the ground bed soaking. As I was leaving Richmond town, and driving through its new found wealth of awkward suburbia and public indifference, I found myself stupidly asking aloud, ‘Who can say for sure how things should be when we can never even say for sure the things we’ve seen?’

It was early afternoon when I reached the plateau’s forest again. The sun was still angling high. And just as I had felt this morning, the trees began to flutter as if shaken and startled. Which was when I decided to forget the day’s paymaster, figuring to explain the delay later on. I wanted to find whatever it was that was inside the forest, so I began wandering down the narrower roads leading through the trees.

After awhile I came to a place that was strange in its respect. It was an opening of cattle kept land looking west to the hazy blueridge. Its grass was still cropped green. I slowed the truck and I stopped. I wouldn’t go on. There were no sounds being carried on vibrating waves of air in that place. I could hear no birds, no stone and metal blows, and no far off traffic. The few cattle that were grazing were lazily lying in the sun. Then a black vulture came flying from over the trees. It was flying low in a slow and wheeling fashion. Then it passed over the farm house that was nearby. And I couldn’t believe the thing that was happening. The vulture’s penumbral shadow brushed against the house, and it brought about a winter’s wakening in the tree line surrounding the field. It was awakening the Army that had not yet surrendered.

The Army was still out there, my man. They were the boy soldiers wearing gray. It was the silent Army continuing in bivouac deep inside the wilderness. They were the soldiers hidden between the trees that were keeping them all, and that were likewise turning a silver gray. The soldiers were huddled around smokeless fires, and they were waiting for something to come, as if they were ready to invent an enemy they could challenge. They also looked ready for the young general to show with his horse and sword. And maybe they were waiting for the swell of an Army’s voice, the certain tide that could namelessly carry them away. Or maybe they were waiting for the secret sign that would call them over the shallow river bend. They seemed so patient, having been there for so long. It was easy to think they would never leave.

But then I saw two soldiers who were standing sentry. They looked as if they were keeping each other warm on the humid breath of a low sung song. They were on the camp’s perimeter, and they were off to themselves. They looked as if they had found something, maybe a vista, that their comrades couldn’t share. Whatever it was it seemed to be putting life in their blood, as they were almost blushing with desire. Then it seemed that one of them was breaking away. He was emerging from the line of trees, and he stood magnificently alone in the green of the field. He looked back at his friend and beckoned him to follow. But the other sentry just leveled his arm. Which must have meant that the man standing out of the trees was becoming a deserter. And, turning away, he evenly began loping across the field. Then the sentry aimed his gun and fired his rifle. He was looking to bring a deserter back. Soon the other soldiers were firing too. Now they were all looking to bring an ex-soldier back. But none of the shots succeeded in travelling the distance, and it looked as if they would not find their mark. Soon the soldiers fell back inside their camp behind the tree line. They quickly returned to their gaming play of patience. And the sentry who had remained at his post began fading down the line. He was just another soldier waiting out the season, he was one more soldier taken up inside the trees.

So there you have it. An errant’s account of how he was paramour to a day. The hour is much later than it was when I began this letter, and I can see the pink gums of another dawn. I imagine you have become a sleepy singer by now, and I’ve still not made my meaning clear. But it’s been two years since we met, and no man can give more than he has. It’s for sure no man can have the things beyond him. Sometimes, I think we are wrapped too fiercely in the same serpent’s coil, and that we want too thoroughly the same curving garden, to ever become friends. Maybe what you’re wanting is something other than that spacious feeling between two brothers sharing city light nights, old highways, and ocean sailing. But what this letter is really for is all I want to tell you. It’s where I get tongue tied for fear of saying it the wrong way. What I mean is that, from where I’m standing way over here, I can feel you hurting in that nameless, deeper way. The way that takes hold of us when we would choose to drown in the ocean’s blue bottomed swell rather than find ourselves beached and kicking dry. Please know what’s so hard to tell you because we’re men and self-possessing. Please know that if something were to happen to you, if you were to lose some part of your delicate self, that I would hurt too in that bad and nameless way. My message, this morning, is just this brother urge.

Terreson
1982

(odd moment of synchronicity. as I type the last words of the story into a word doc, two National Guard fighter jets fly low overhead, screaming like banshees.)

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Nov/12/2011, 1:57 am
Nov/11/2011, 3:47 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Veteran's Day


I bring this forward on Veteran's Day.

Tere
Nov/11/2013, 3:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Veteran's Day


hi tere,

This is just to let you know I read this and haven't collected/sifted my thoughts and the images sufficiently to comment. Don't know if this requires a comment, I'm sure I'll read it again,

Chris
Nov/12/2013, 10:20 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: Veteran's Day


Thanks, Chris.

Tere
Nov/17/2013, 2:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Veteran's Day


Not sure I had read this before. I may have. This piece hits the reader on several different levels, and like the others (at least one), I am not sure I can do justice to the piece as a reader and commentator. Not sure my impressions are clear. It appears clear enough in the beginning. A trucker seeing the road, the city, in the morning, his impression drawing in the day. The writing is strictly your own; I see some Impressionism, some influences by some of the poets/writers you've mentioned int the past -- but the style is strictly, undeniably yours. The piece takes a dramatic turn to a vision of an Army, possibly the South, yet undefeated. There is an enigmatic moment when one of the soldiers disappears, a deserter, and we are left to wonder whether his fellow soldier let him escape. There is the brother urge you've written about in at least one other piece -- another very good work. As I read this, I was thinking your writing is not the commercial stuff quickly read and digested. This is material that requires some thought, and perhaps a wise owl to explicate it. Like in a seminar. Zak
Feb/11/2014, 8:10 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Veteran's Day


Thanks for commenting, Zak. Actually you have read it before. Back in the old Lily board days where I first posted it and you first commented on it. I remember because it struck a chord in you because of your Nam years, or so you said. If it works for you still I'm glad. It works for me on a bunch of different levels.

Tere
Feb/14/2014, 9:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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