On the second night of the winter’s long weekend, Karen brought out her guitar & we huddled over the cracks in the old stone patio, wrapped in blankets in the cold. The mountains across the nightplain, cedar & sage in dirt in the dark, were moving around. Orion lifted the Magic Scythe. The moon was saying, Yes, but time means very little to me.
Up, on the little flat roof, the tarpaper shifted around. The little animals out in the dark, their hearts moved up & down in the dark. Two flat black stones, just beyond where the light from the house could reach, were looking around.
Karen, on the little blue bench, propped against the fake-mud stucco wall of the little house. The owl, in the one old cottonwood, was understanding.
Kid, Karen nodded with her chin in Ryan’s direction & he reached across the firelight for her glass. Her eyes as dark as glass & the black leather bangs she’d cut on her own over the sink that afternoon while me & Ryan walked the arroyo looking for bear tracks. Not really talking just kind of seeing what we would feel.
Before she lifted out the guitar, she took her compact from a pocket in the deeper folds of her sable coat & pouted her lips to do her lipstick in the dark-red shade of her nails. There was a little round circle of something above the fire.
On later road trips Karen’s guitar was our fourth traveler, a special person.
Ryan was pressing his hand into my side in the dark blue blankets, real softly.
Karen was singing solace in the dark beneath the branches & the glint of heavy silver, in night-shapes, on her half-gloves & the cottonwood’s copper branches in the dark. Way out across the nightplain a little snow along the hills below the mountains & Karen, real slow now, her dark-mascara voice inside some smoke, sang,
You scared them—
What am I to do— I’ll never get them back…
Baby rabbits, like little jewels hunched in the soft dirt burrows beneath the sage, eyeshadow soft. Karen with her eyes closed in the dark, her hands pressed soft to the guitar, Ryan humming softly from his shoulders with his arm around my shoulders.
Orion dreams of love, the moon was saying.
What love? asked the Instar. A third voice replied, Love for what really happened.
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