A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
When I was nineteen and the drummer in the show band that backed you, you took me to your bed. I had been speechless in your presence: your honey whiskey voice, your marriages to famous band leaders. Your body’s reputation preceded you — and because of the times, it superseded your formidable talent. We sat at the bar at the Press Club after your show, your warm hand on my thigh, breasts against my shoulder as you knocked back screwdriver after screwdriver, telling me how sensitive I was. The other older band members smirking but wishing they were me. Your drinking I would come to recognize later in my own life. The slight chemical smell of your breath as your liver refused its unreasonable load.
Naked you were luminous and all my cells photographed you, stayed with me all these years. But there was a shadow to that beauty. When we are older we acquire it as Thanatos, the reminder, steps out into the light. Then we are equal parts with Eros. This dance threatens the young, who live yet in Paradise. It threatened me that night but your body and your desperate need consumed me and all opposites reconciled.
After the war I lost the music, wandered, and like you, drank. We might have loved each other well. You were only eight years older than me but you were light years beyond me in desperation. It might have worked. I wish it had. You left after the gig and I never heard from you. You were on the road and I couldn’t bring myself to call your agent and find out where you were. You were as good as Peggy, as Anita, but luck never found you and some of things you did to increase your visibility did you harm.
I still think of you, at least once a week. Last week I Googled you. No one had told me. You had drifted into obscurity and shot yourself in the head at age forty-six. You live in my cells. You live in my incomplete understanding that now moves to complete itself. My heart has ripened.
Copyright 2015 Doug Anderson