Some fish get away, swerving and gliding like crystal oblongs filled with light away from all bait, toward the sun-dappled and wrinkling future, the creek of time. Some fish weren’t meant to be caught, but some are, pulled out of the freezer after lovemaking, coated in cornmeal, sautéed with white wine and almonds in butter and left half-eaten by the bed.
I have often thought of that dinner but just now, after all this time, how someone fed me green plums, shrimp and next to raw bits of grilled t-bone on an early summer evening, after the rainstorm when I made him put down his coffee and follow me into a tunnel of fate, a room at the back of a plain little trailer under silver maples, mountains to the west, thunderstorm rolling in like a standing ovation.
Just now I have come from the land east of where we met, the tract we bought and where we set our house and rooted our lives, driving in, past an empty swing set against the greening spring. I got out of the truck and took my prize puppy out of her crate: he held her up, his white, big teeth with the gold filling flashing. Our hair grey, and still the light of that smile, the steadiness about the shoulders, the reassurance of the brown coveralls against the day, and time billowing around us like a silver cloak of spun taffeta.
I handed him an ice cream bar and a pack of frozen ground sirloin to make spaghetti; we mentioned recent movies and a few people that we know, why the storm predicting three feet of snow passed us by with its fullness, its trouble and pot-holes.
“We–you,” he hesitated, “…need to see about that cat,” my thin grey cat with a tooth gone bad, her tongue out, slipping in with the foxes to eat, away like them to a vantage point. As we talked the green stretches of the pastures shimmered at the corners of my eyes: I looked back at the creek bed where the frieze of trees and pasture on the other side caught the light like emerald shards of glass on a damp brown road.
Somehow we rose to all occasions: how the creeks overflowed and came to the banks of the kennel, so that we stood out all night in our waders, ready to move the dogs; the fire on the Joder Ranch, loading fifty horses in stinging clouds of smoke and dust– persevering for a time in all things, turning dog-tired to each other in the night in the constancy of the Boulder foothills winds, and then the years on the place, bringing a home to life from virgin ground.
I was suddenly in danger of saying the wrong thing, knowing that if I did it would cost me the hour, the new ease between us, the trees like broken green glass at my back.
Regret works on us all. If I could, I would mend the, paper heaven that collapsed upon both of us, breaking the bones of our trust. I would heal all of the cats that live under the doublewide that are issue and great-grand issue of my matriarch cat with the inflamed jawbone.
I climbed into the Ranger and headed out, my home at my back. I left via the easement through the horse ranch next door, past the barn and dreaming stallions, past many unchanged things, and then the neighbors’ yards, the empty blue swing cabled to an ancient elm.
The storm has passed us by; if there are any trout dallying in Dry Creek, melting into the shadows and lazing downstream, we will not make reference to them, as a matter of course.
(sometime in April 2004)
To savor the amazing oil paintings of my brother Stuart Andrews, visit him here.