Literary Upstart Finalist: All I Have Pictured (A Slide Show) 

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Fucking Fillmore. He had one fucking job. Well, the flowers. The bathroom. Still.

A hot spring outside of Ashland, Oregon. They perform Shakespeare there. That’s why he’s pictured in the left-hand corner. In Ashland, not in the Hot Spring. Well, maybe someone does that too. After hours, soaking in that warmth, a pair of naked bodies whisper. And maybe they splash and get the lines mixed-up but of course that doesn’t matter because the world in that moment is nothing more than the heat from that water and the kind of breath that can be seen. Maybe someone does that. I don’t know.

I didn’t leave the lens cap on, if that’s what you’re thinking. In the northwest tip of Leggitt, California you’ll find the Chandelier Tree. A Coastal Redwood three hundred and fifteen feet tall and approximately older than Christ. Through the trunk, there’s a tunnel carved wide enough for a car to drive through and for five dollars one can.

Just before dark Ginny and I drove through the Chandelier tree. Inside, surrounded by darkness, I let the car idle for a moment, then an extended moment, and then several of them. I unrolled the windows and innumerable scores of the dead, all of whom had been hiding in the man-made hole, climbed into our car. Some famous, some less so, but all of them filled with new-life and joy. They tussled our hair, patted our backs and sang breathless songs, stopping only to laugh. We were not scared.

Ginny let her head rest on my shoulder then we each put a hand on the camera and held it out in front of us. The whole car stilled. And even though there was no flash, even though we all knew it would come out as only blackness, only nothing, we smiled like hell and took a picture anyway because, Jesus, we had to try didn’t we?

Then we left and ate and slept a little then turned around and drove home. Seeing no more sites, taking no more pictures, stopping only to visit my father at an assisted living facility in Kansas City, Missouri.

As I said earlier, we never made it to the Four Corners. But there’s no time for that and I don’t think there ever was.



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