by Chuck Holmes
Thought he’d feel better if he could just go see Roses again. Trouble was, it was clear across town. Long ride by bus. Couple of transfers. Several stops along the way. Already planning his route though, as he ate a bowl of frosty Cheerios.
There were five of them. At least five. Maybe six. He’d count them when he got there. They were set against the sky. Clouds in the background. Famous for his clouds.
Didn’t want to take the time to take a bath. Couldn’t shave if he didn’t bathe. Who cares? No one really. There’s no one but his cat. Call her Zooey.
Down the stairs and out the door of the Portland dorms. Not really dorms. Lots of Mac students in residence. Long time since he was in college. Still has that college mentality though. Even dresses like a student. An outdated one.
Heading north on Snelling. Always busy. Take your life in your hands trying to cross it. Forget about that! Walk up to the light. Coast right on past O’Gara’s. Scene of the crime last night. Sitting at the bar, talking to that Mac girl about painting. Surprised he knew so much.
“Are you an artist?” she’d asked.
“No” he’d said, “but I like to look at art!”
He was looking at her, wasn’t he? She was art, pure art. Had to shout to make yourself heard above that dumb music. She was art alright. But where was she from? Began with a W. Waseca? Wadena? Walker? Winona? Somewhere out in the country.
It’d be nice to go out in the country. Almost need a car for that. Hasn’t had one for a couple of years. Life without a car. Be easier with one. Get another one someday. You made your bed. Now sleep in it.
Slept lousy, as a matter of fact. Never mix beer and wine. Don’t ever again! Then why last night? They were talking about Klee, weren’t they? He took a line for a walk. He took lots of lines for lots of walks. A musician too. Househusband, with one child.
He’d been married once. It hadn’t lasted long. Why not? Why hadn’t it lasted longer? This girl last night, she kind of reminded him of his wife. He didn’t like to think of his former wife too much. No hard feelings, dear. Fun while it lasted.
Here comes the #21. On time too. Correct change only. Dig in your right pocket. Bills in the left one, wrapped around a credit card. Don’t use it unless absolutely necessary. Should have found out the available balance.
Now he’s moving. A person sees himself in and out of a landscape like this one. Nothing special about it, except that it is the Twin Cities. Things happen here. Always something going on. A ghost or two around every corner. Always bumping into one.
Good to be traveling when your head’s spinning. Roaming around town again, but with a purpose this time. Roses awaits him. Good old Roses. Funny that just last night he was telling that girl about it. And now he’s on his way to see it. Once again.
She seemed interested in what he had to say. Best conversation in months really. She’d never heard of Hartley. He gave her a thumbnail sketch, right there at the bar. Bought her a beer too.
Going past the library. Any overdues? Don’t think so. Did I renew Hope Against Hope? Not sure. What about Good Morning, Midnight? Check on it on the way home.
The river’s coming up. Move over to a seat on the right, so you can look up stream. Past the railroad bridge. Beyond the Franklin Avenue Bridge. Just see his old school. The U. Should have studied something else. Take a night class sometime. Everyone younger than you. That’s no good.
Good place to start my novel. A beach along the river. A character emerges from the woods. His footprints follow him. Picks up a piece of driftwood in the shape of a gun. A dead carp, its throat slit. The glint of the blade. Evocative. A rowboat is waiting. To take him to New Orleans. Never heard from again. Spanish moss instead of snow.
Lake Street. It stretches away. It’s endless. There used to be a good bakery over there. That guy in the front seat looks familiar. Used to play in a band with Curtiss A? Slim something. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s filling up. Move over so someone can sit down.
Maybe she doesn’t speak English. ‘Hi’ though? It’s pretty universal. Everyone knows hi, just like everyone knows Haydn. Get serious! You who don’t know when you’ve had too much to drink. Next time.
Ok. There’s the cemetery. They say that it used to be on the edge of town. Wandering in cemeteries like they’re a park or something. Eat your lunch beside a grave with your name on the stone. Date yet to be filled in. Quick! Think of something else.
That girl with the ear buds. Pretty. What’s she listening to? Jarrett playing Handel? I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. But what if she was? You would have something in common with someone. Again. Worth asking her? No. A setup for a putdown.
There! Over there where that McDonald’s is. That’s where that bar was where you saw Bonnie Raitt and Spider John and Little Sun and Snaker Ray. The Silver Dollar? Man, that was a long time ago. You rode the bus that time too. Always had to live in St. Paul. Why? Because you’re Irish, remember? How quickly we forget.
She’s getting off. Him too. Look at all those people getting on. Wow! Somebody is going to have to stand. I’m off soon.
“Hey. You can have my seat. I’m getting off pretty quick. At Nicollet.”
Nico–lay. A great explorer. Made a map too. Pretty accurate, I guess. Or so they say. Got Lake Superior right anyway.
Pull the cord man! What are you waiting for? It’s the next stop. Are you changing your mind? Going on to Uptown, then down Father Hennepin? No! It’s the Black Forest first. Right? I thought we had a plan. We do. We do have a plan. The bar at the Black Forest.
Waiting for another bus. Half your life spent waiting. What the hell. Good chance to look around. See what’s changed, what hasn’t. Glad I don’t live on Lake. Too busy!
Here it comes. Line up. Step on. Present transfer. Get punched. Move to the back. Sit down. Look around. Know anybody? Nope. Didn’t think you would. Population’s doubled. Killebrew’s dead. The man with the swing. Saw him hit a few out at the old Met.
Look at all these new restaurants on Nicollet! Like to try every one. Get my appetite back. Thirsty now.
Black Forest coming up on the right. Right on the corner. Been there for years. Going inside like stepping back in time. Pull the cord. Time to get off again.
Marvelous thing: mass transit. Great way to get around. Leave the driving to us. Hope they’re not under the influence. Have a bad day! Anybody ever say that?
Here we are! The old wooden doors. A taste of Germany. Free papers. Shitty Pages anyone? Leave ‘em be. Nothin’ in ‘um. Written by kids, for kids. Not a kid anymore. Too bad!
Ever come here with Kari Ann? Don’t think so. Used to stop by after Thursday nights at the Art Institute. That was fun. Always someone at the bar to talk art with.
The place is empty. Pretty early. The lunch crowd has departed. Down time before dinner. Bored waitresses. Paid by the hour. No tips.
There’s Tom behind the bar. Reminds me of another Tom. Does he remember me? Do I look familiar?
“Hey, how are ya doin’, Tom?”
Avedon’s big photo with the bullet holes. Aging Daughters. In revolt against the steep decline. Nothing you can do about that. All dressed up and no place to… And to think someone fired shots at it. Should’ve been here as it happened.
“Haven’t seen you in a while. What can I get you?”
“Yeah, I’ll have … a beer … a Summit pale ale, please.”
“Coming right up!”
Comfortable place. Cozy as a home. The quiet is much appreciated. Hear everything. Every little sound. Good place to think. But about what?
Roses! Think about Roses. As you were telling that Mac girl in O’Gara’s last night. What? What what? What were you informing her of? That Roses was on Hartley’s easel when he died up in Maine. Corea. A small town of a few hundred. On the coast, of course. Moved in with Katie and Forest.
“Here you go!”
“Like to start a tab?”
“I’m sorry, but … what was your name?”
My real name? Or my bar persona name? Too early to be clever. Play it straight.
“Of course! I knew that. You used to work at a used bookstore in St. Paul, didn’t you? Still there?”
“I am. But it’s going out of business next month. The owners can’t afford the rent. And business is way down.”
“That’s too bad. Have you got … anything else lined up?”
“Well … you know … something will turn up.”
“Yeah. I’m not too worried.”
“Can I get you anything to eat?”
“Naw. I’m fine, thanks.”
See myself working here. Conversing with the daytime crowd. Getting caught up in waitress problems. Sipping coffee. Maybe a little red wine on the side. Out of here before it gets busy.
What are you going to do next? Do for work? Lots of options. Keep them open. List your qualifications. I’d rather not. Another time. Recovering today. On my way to smell the Roses.
If you worked here, then you couldn’t come here. You’d have to go somewhere else. This guy’s here forever anyway. He’s not going anywhere.
Phone’s ringing. Probably a reservation for tonight. The Odegaard’s are on the line. They were in the bookstore business too, at one time. Beautiful stores. Clerks knowledgeable and helpful. “Do you have anything by Robert Walser?” Somebody answer it! There! Interrupted my reverie. Where was I? Doesn’t matter. Begin again.
Beer’s nice and fresh. Restoring me to myself once again. Can’t get over that girl’s face from last night. Just … beautiful. Have no idea what her name was. Don’t want to make a habit of hanging out at O’Gara’s. May have to though.
If I was a painter I’d paint her face. Not from memory. Give her the Gerhard Richter treatment. Create my very own Betty. I’d have to have her sitting right in front of me. Her blouse unbuttoned at the top. Natural light only. Several sessions over several weeks. At the end we fall into each other’s arms. Happens often.
But a young girl like that? In your arms? Wouldn’t it feel funny after? I mean, think about it. No, don’t think about it. Just keep her face in front of you. A warm vision.
The bartender is looking at me. Trying to make eye contact. I checked out, but I’m back in again. He has a question. Here he comes. Get ready. Be normal.
“You used to be friends with Tommy Johnson, didn’t you? When he bartended across the street at the Artist Quarter.”
“Oh yeah. Sure. I still see him occasionally.”
“Where’s he at now?”
“Frosts. W. A. Frosts. In St. Paul. On Selby. Selby and … Western!”
“Oh yeah? Fancy spot. Big outdoor patio. Good place to work, I bet.”
“He’s been there for years. Thursday through Sunday nights. Yup.”
“I’ll have to stop in there sometime. Don’t get over that way much anymore. I live out the other way.”
“Yup. We love it out there. Driving in and out is a hassle though.”
“Tom! I need a burgundy. And a Bud. And a bloody Mary!’
She looks familiar too. That waitress. Been here for years probably. People get stuck in jobs. Can’t extract themselves after a while.
Wish that couple over in the corner would talk a little louder. Can’t hear a thing that they’re saying. Fun to listen in on conversations sometimes. Beats a monologue all to hell.
What music is that? Have to strain to hear. Is it Strauss? One of my least favorites.
Here comes somebody else. Looks like a regular. Tom’s pouring him a tall one. Didn’t even have to ask.
One’s going to be enough for me here. Don’t really belong to this club. Gotta keep moving. Walk down Nicollet to Franklin. Catch a westbound to Hennepin. That’s the plan. Finish up now.
“Going to have another one, Paul?”
“I don’t think so. I’ll settle up with you.”
Turn your head. Look at the Avedon one more time. Daughters of the Revolution. Sitting and standing. All dressed up. It’s not the subject so much as the size. That, and the black and whiteness. The texture of time. And then the bullet hole, of course. Like Duchamp said: Now it is finished. The guy with the gun did everybody a favor. Made it famously famous. Wonder where he is now?
“Here you go. Take it out of the twenty?”
“Be right back with your change.”
The tip. Leave a good one. Come back again someday. A fervent wish to be fondly recalled. By bartender and waitress and bus person alike. “Yeah, he was a great guy!” Or something like that. Short memories nowadays. Too many distractions. Twilight of the empire. Center of gravity shifting to Shanghai.
“There you go! Thanks Paul. Good to see you again. Don’t be a stranger!”
I am a stranger to myself. Look in the mirror. Who are you? Je ne sais pas.
“Thanks Tom. I’m off to the Walker.”
“Hey, have fun. What’s there now?”
“Marsden Hartley. Especially his Roses.”
“The name sounds familiar. Gosh, I haven’t been to the Walker in years. Got too pretentious for my tastes. Well … enjoy!”
Out the door. And into the fresh air. Call it that, if you must. Car exhaust and all. Breathe it in deeply. Life in the city. Should have used the bathroom before leaving. Go back in? Naw. Only had one. Lucky to escape. Kind of a claustrophobic atmosphere.
Keep your wits about you. Like waiting for the light to turn green. There goes a bus! Should I run to catch it? No! Stroll up to Franklin. Remember? Roses not going anywhere. Waiting for you at the Walker. Like a blessing almost. An interesting few blocks between here and there. Minneapolis more diverse than St. Paul.
Look! There’s Tammy! Across the street. About to go into that coffee place. Haven’t seen her in years. Should I whistle? Shout? Follow her inside? No. Keep going. She didn’t see you. She might sense your hungover weakness. Take advantage of it.
Light’s green. Walk fast! Head turned the other way. To where the Artist Quarter used to be. Heard Charley Rouse play Round About Midnight there one time. Could have died and gone to Nirvana after that.
Walk like you’ve got some place to be. Had a hard crush on Tammy once. She played with your affections. She flirted. She wasn’t serious. She sat on your lap in Riverplace. Right on your lap! The soft sensual weight of her against you. Immediately something inside of you rose. She must have felt it. She jumped up. Went back to work. Selling sweets. Not sweets of sin. Fudge. Black walnut.
Think you want to go back? Go back and see her? Surprise her in the coffee shop, maybe? Think again! Maybe she’s meeting somebody. She likes guys that play guitar. Keep that other girl in mind. The one from last night. Her face. The tilt of her head. How she ran her fingers through her hair. Modeliste of Madrid. Henri could have painted her.
You put your right hand on Tammy’s waist that time. How many years ago? Walking back up the hill toward the St. Paul Cathedral. After that Munch exhibit at the Landmark. A knockout of a show. How many times did you go? Took Tammy once. You moved your hand discreetly down. She pushed it away. Said something harsh. Put you in your place alright. That’s when you knew.
Knew what? Forget about it, man. Just keep going. Past the old belly dancing place. Had dinner there once with … With who? Joanne, I think. Excellent eggplant. Sitting in a booth. The belly dancer came out from the wings. A special added attraction. Taped music. No snakes.
Not far to Franklin. Three blocks maybe. Nice neighborhoods off to the right. Old apartment buildings. Close to the Art Institute. Hartleys there too. Not the masterpieces that the Walker has though. What was that collector’s name? Hudson? T.B.? Started the Walker. One of the hippest museums in the country at one time. Before it got too … what? Clever? Cute? Pretentious? Like Tom said. Oh well. No big deal. Life goes on. Directors come and go. Always moving up and down the ladder. Til they reach the top! MOMA maybe?
A wedding store. Weddings and funerals bring out best and worst. That little girl I tried to kiss. Only six. She was five. Hot that day. We were running. She was screaming. Finally caught her in the roses. Kissed her cheek, not her lips. She ran away. Let her go.
Here come some Somalis. Beautiful people. Add color and character and class to our burg. Dressed for the Horn of Africa. The time of year makes no difference to them. Feel the hot and the cold like I do. Who are their poets?
Watch out! Don’t step on that. Never come off. A trail of doodoo all through the Walker. The gift shop cashiers holding their noses. Dressed in black. Fishnet stockings. Eyes averted. Minimalist music floating ethereally overhead.
Are you going to stop? You see the stop sign? You see me? Eye contact. Good. Stop complete. So that I may proceed. Unharmed. Uninsured man on foot. On his way to see the Roses. Get a whiff of their sweet fragrance. One more time before. Going out of business.
Bathroom already? Here’s Franklin. Is that a bus coming? Hurry. Watch out! Red light. Run for it!
Wow! You made it. Just. Crazy thing to do. Transfer in hand. After you, madam. Here we go. Up the stairs. Seat open next to the Native. Take it.
“Hey. How ya doin’?”
No answer. That’s ok. Booming down Franklin. What a city! Every nationality. That girl that I met last night. Thousands like her. How they blossom here. What if she’d stayed in her tiny town? Would have eaten her alive! She’ll never go back. Unless to raise a family. Safety in boredom.
Here’s Lyndale. Busy intersection. That theatre over there. Why haven’t I ever gone to it? Didn’t they do Tennessee not too long ago? Grandmother took me to see Cat when I was ten. Ten years old! Confronted by Big Daddy. What are these people yelling about? I wondered.
Up the hill toward Hennepin. The diesel is straining. These things are big polluters. They like to decorate the sides to hide the fact. Light rail is on the way anyway.
Here’s Hennepin. Hop off. Cross the street now. It’s your last chance. Watch out! Manhole cover. Minneapolis underground. Anything like Paris?
Almost feels like a big city. Could be in Chicago. People don’t walk as fast though. A more leisurely pace. Always a lake to pause before.
I just realized something, she said. My first wife. My ex wife. My only wife.
At least I was married. Once. Upon a time. Married with no children. Should have got her pregnant maybe. Shared custody. Could have walked down the sidewalk, hand in little hand. Like that guy over there. They say it takes you out of yourself. To have a child.
She was out of cigarettes, and she didn’t have enough for another pack.
I just realized that we’re always going to be poor, aren’t we?
Then she started to hit me. Hit me hard. On my ear. Which one? Right, I think. Bleeding. I left.
Look at that woman carrying a basket on her head! No hands too. Amazing. Now I feel like I’m in Nairobi.
Always, she said. Always going to be poor.
There’s lots of ways to be poor. Not all of them involve lack of money. Maybe she was right. My novel. If I could only sit still long enough to write it. About a guy who works in a bookstore. A used bookstore. “Told with charm and wit!” Write your own blurbs.
I left. In a hurry. Avoid violence. Avoid a scene. Run from confrontation. Women enjoy it, they say. Proves that you love them. Yeah…
When I came back…
I didn’t come back ‘til the next day, did I? She was gone. Most of her stuff gone too. Left behind those books I gave her. To the Lighthouse. Tender Buttons. Gone for good. Goodbye sweetheart! Sweet Virginia. They come and they go. Not funny then though. No. Lonely. Very.
There’s the Walker. The pilgrim approaches the shrine. On foot. After a journey of many days and nights. Life itself is a journey. Don’t get mundane on me.
Tuck in your shirt. Straighten your glasses. Put a wave in your hair. Try and look like you belong here. Don’t act suspicious. Keep a respectful distance between yourself and the art works. This is serious. Adopt the demeanor.
These steps. These same Walker Art Center steps. Leading to the entrance. These are the same steps that Dizzy. I wasn’t there. Flanagan told me about it. The man with jazz movie archive. Dizzy had to go, I guess. Right after the concert. On these same steps. Couldn’t wait. Or was he making a statement. Couldn’t have said it better myself!
Dizzy was a Baha’i. All people are one. Persecuted by the Iranians. The Bob dodged all those bullets. He wasn’t finished with his letter. His last letter. They had to find a whole new firing squad. Like a Garcia Marquez novel almost.
Here we are. Finally! Open the big glass door. Never going to be the same again. Art changes you. Leaves a footprint. Or an impression. Not that kind of impression! Haystacks and cathedrals. Which is more permanent?
It’s free day. She’s waving me on through. A demure young woman, dressed in black. Nice earrings! Little seahorses. And we’re all so far from the sea here.
No admission Thursday! My lucky day. I’ll spend what I save on. On something or other. Hands in my pockets. Remove them now. Rub your nose. A subtle sign of uncertainty.
To the bathroom! Down the steps. Don’t do a Dizzy. Stop at the fountain on the way out. Wash hands? Employees must. I’m not. File for unemployment.
No one in here. All by myself. Piped in music. Morton Feldman? Meredith Monk? Flush! Mississippi river water maybe.
Ok. That’s done. Now I’m set. Where to first? Work your way toward the Roses. How about Kiefer first? Go see if his propeller is spinning. Feel expansive standing in front of it. German can-do spirit. Caspar David. The name of the old painter. His landscapes. None of them at the WAC. We’re in modern times. Remember?
I love this place. Get a job here maybe. Meet some of the other guards. Become one of the avant-garde! In a manner of speaking. The women who work in the bookstore. Black skirts. Nylons. Keep your eyes averted. Not shamefully.
Some time bring that woman you met last night. Arrange to meet her here. Go to a concert maybe. Or see some dance. How about a movie? Subtitles running along the bottom. The latest from Iran. Filmmakers and Mullahs. Clash of cultures. Power and weakness of art. More fun to share experience. Grist for your memory. Remember when?
Laughter in the galleries. A crowd confronted by George Segal. Everything looks real except. Except that guy who is all white. A ghost of Christmas past.
Anselm Kiefer. Approach him slowly. Every shade of gray. Gunpowder, and all the others. Bits and scraps attached. Somehow it all coheres. Try it sometime. Find a few objects. Put them together in an interesting way.
Never going to find a propeller like that one though! Just bump into one out in a field somewhere. Look at all the wars fought on German soil. No battles here since the Indian wars. An unresolved conflict. Life on the Rez. Depends on who you talk to. Or read. Louise is good. She grew up on the White Earth, didn’t she? Her beautiful eyes. The absolute loveliest in the entire world. No doubt in my mind about that. Wonder if she ever comes here? She must. Run into her sometime. A surprise! Introduced by? Who would I know that she knows? Nobody! That’s who.
You’ve paid your respects to Kiefer. Now move on. Go for the Roses. Pass through a gauntlet of Cornell on the way. Boxes and collages. Your long lost brother. An eccentric man. They all sought him out. Even John and Yoko. They went out to Utopia Parkway to see him. Did he give them a box? They could afford to buy their own!
These boxes came to the Walker a long time ago. He liked this place. They gave him a show. Did he come in person? Probably not. A shy man. Loved waitresses and do-nuts and the receding misty past. Too much in common with him. Way too much.
Here are the Hartleys. Finally! The object of your quest. What you crossed the oceanic city for. Don’t look for the Roses. Not yet. First take in Storm Clouds Over Maine. Look at it. Look what paint is capable of. With the right hand on the right brush. He was a young man at the time too. How old? 1906 minus 1877 equals? Ah … 23 plus 6. Why that’s…
All the conceptual art in the world not worth this one painting. A tired joke. Out of air. Flat. Duchamp gone to seed. Marcel though. Humor and irony. Knew how to live, didn’t he? Attracted women. Impotent? Who cares!
Twenty nine! Twenty nine years old when he painted Storm Clouds. Look how the sun has come through the clouds to light up the forest. A master of cloud painting. Like Stieglitz was for cloud photography.
Maine! Must be something. Go there sometime. Late summer. Early fall. Camp out right by the ocean. A lighthouse in the distance. Probably see Hartleys everywhere! I mean scenes right out of Hartley. The Man from Maine. Not Ed Muskie. Marsden Hartley, man!
Got to see a portrait before Roses. Here’s one. Cleophas, Master of the Gilda Gray. Cleophas, you’re a masterpeach. Look at your paws! You’re slightly off kilter, aren’t you? Like all of us, man.
The U. of M. has Marie Ste. Esprit. And Adelard the Drowned. And Eight Bells Folly. What a town for Marsden Hartley! Unbeatable. The foresight of the Walkers. Makes me proud to live here. Almost. Share in the glow. Drink in the glory.
This guy was an American! Whatever that means. This guy was it! He knew it. He painted it. It all comes out in the colors. The shapes. The weird characters. Landscape recreated. It’s not the same. But it’s not different either.
Struggled all his life. Hard to get along with. A gay guy to boot. Hard time to be one. Found love in Berlin. Up in Nova Scotia too. Fishermen and lifeguards. Whatever gets you through the night, as John sang.
You ready for the Roses man? This is it. This is what got you up. You’d still be lying there! If not for you, Roses! This is why you cruised across town. The return trip awaits. It can wait. Ladies and Gentlemen. May I present to you. All the way from Corea up in Maine.
Not one thing between them and me.
But here comes a guard …
Am I standing too close?
We’ll see what he says.
“Will you please step back a bit.”
“Oh. Sorry. How’s this?”
“Ahh … little bit more.”
There he goes. Just doing his job. Has to protect the pictures. Yeah. Shield them from over zealous art fanatics like myself. What gets into people? They bring their knives. Stab Rembrandt. Mutilate Picasso. I can see doing it to Koons. That makes sense. That guy Hirst too. Maybe even Warhol. Throw darts at ‘em, like Dylan did.
Dear Roses. Excuse me while I bathe. In your shimmering transcendence. Forget the reason for the effect. They just have it. Don’t question it. Give off a fragrance too. Despite their having been painted umpteen years ago. In the midst of the war. Father in the Pacific Theatre. Peering through his binoculars. Kamikazes!
They must be love. A big bouquet of. Can I take it home? In spirit only. The guards would go crazy! Never get out the door. Much less on the bus.
Know right where I’d put it. On the wall off the balcony. Across from my bed. So that it would be the first thing I saw. Upon waking. Gradually I would become it. After looking at it. Day after day. Become one with things. Objects of love. Affection. What makes the world go.
Go into a tailspin after parting? No. I can make it. Apologize to all I have wronged. Offer some Roses in return. Here dear. You don’t even have to water them.
If I could see. That Mac girl that I met last night. Standing right where I am. Looking at the Roses. I would look at her looking. And I would be happy. For ever after. Until death do us part. To love and to cherish. My hand in hers. The baby in a backpack.
A kiss. To top it off. Would the guard be ok with that. Maybe a female one. My lips against hers. Chapped or smooth as the case may be. Tasting everything that she. Or almost everything. Hold the sauerkraut! And the wieners!
Good café here. Expensive though. Wait ‘til she can come too. If that day. Who knows? Don’t give up! Or surrender. I have not yet begun to. Love. It’s always. What? Just around the corner. Of Grand and Dale. Of Selby and Western. Of Summit and Snelling. Lots of corners. Lots of love! Sincerely. Yours truly. Roses.
Turn your back. On her. On the big bouquet. Then turn again. One last look. This is sick! No it isn’t! The last look! But one. And then: one more. And then I’m gone.
But where? Where to from here?
Making my way out of the Walker. And not stopping at the bookstore either. Imagine that! Keep going. Out the big glass doors.
Fresh air again. Drink it in. A drink then? Maybe. But where? Over there? Across Loring Park.
First you must safely cross Hennepin. Wait for the Walk. Wait some more. The traffic. It all has to come to a stop. So that you can cross.
That’s you heading for the Loring Bar, isn’t it? I thought so. You’ll have to use your credit card, you know? I know. Don’t really want to though. Drinks aren’t cheap there. No. You have to pay for the ambience.
And then you’re in the Loring. And you’re sitting at the bar. You order a glass of wine. La Crema. La crème de la crème. Or something like that. The drink is paid for. You left a tip. But you have yet to take your first sip.
You’re just looking at it. Looking through it. Looking beyond it.
A reflection of yourself in the glass. Like what you see? No.
The Roses. Another way. They were pointing. Instead of this. Always this. This glass. Instead of that. Of this! Something else.
Ain’t no good. To sit and. Look at my. Drink. Babe!
I’m going. Before the music kicks in. Can’t resist. Live jazz and dry white.
Goodbye pretty bartender. I’m waiting for you to turn your back on me.
Get up. Quick! Leave. Hurry!
Leave it behind on the bar. Go!
They won’t know. Or care. Or miss me. Customers are muppets.
I am leaving the bar without my having taken so much as one sip.
An expensive glass of wine remains behind on the bar…
Push open the big heavy door with the little bell dangling down from the knob.
I left the bar.
Keep going! Across the park. Notice the birds. They look pretty free. Walk downtown. Catch the 20 out to Lake. Then the 21 home. Home before you know it. Thinking about Roses all the way. How Roses pointed the way.
The way to another day.
Roses drink water. Not wine. You say.
You don’t say!
I say: Keep going.
Do not get off on the West Bank either!
Going straight home.
See Zooey. Feed her some walleye. Thaw it first.
Write something about the Roses when you get there.
Call it: Roses. Nice and simple. Story of a voyage.
Around the world, and then home again. Hope I see her. Again.
But you are. You are another. Now.
As in Rimbaud …