October, 2015

If I was a child still, this would be the week of loading artwork into my dad’s red pickup and driving to Harwinton to set up the art we’d crafted for the fair. Every year it’s on the first weekend in October.

I’d have a few drawings, Jeremy would have some kind of carving or metal work, and my dad would enter photographs. We were a competitive bunch, and the year my dad won Best in Show for one of his photographs it suddenly seemed like blue ribbons weren’t worth reaching for. I was jealous. However, all of us had a Best in Show year or two as time went on, and when his turn passed my dad was never the jealous type. He bragged to anyone he could whenever either of his children was recognized, proud as hell. I fell off of his bragging list years ago, possibly because he doesn’t understand the details of what I do for a living, or possibly because he hasn’t heard me play piano in at least five years.

A hurricane is supposed to pass through this weekend and I’m sure the Harwinton Fair will carry on, rain or shine. My dad will be there in his cowboy hat and boots, with his silver belt buckle polished like a moon, every bit the spitting image of a cross between Peter Fonda and Robert Redford, tall and bandy like all of the Germans on that side of my blood.

I won’t be there this year. I haven’t been since college. I’m not into cheeseburgers, fried dough, or cotton candy the way I was as a kid, but damn if I don’t wish I could get there for one hour, for a hot apple cider and to listen to my horse whispering great-uncle Arnold critique a pull.

Things like that make me wish I still had the old Canon AE-1 I borrowed from an aunt. That simple machine was a brick, but a classic. I could still unload it, wrap the film into a spool, develop, and print the photos blindfolded – or in a pitch black room. I still remember the way the developer smelled. The immediacy and accessibility of photography now is lighter, but it creates so much visual noise. Instagram is so much litter and so little substance. I miss doing it by hand, waiting for just one shot because there was a finite limit to how many frames were available.

And I miss the darkroom. And later, my studio in art school, where I built a tree on which to hang my painting clothes. The thighs of my painting jeans were so caked in a confetti of oil colors that they could practically stand independently.

Maybe it’s the memory. Maybe the fragrance. Maybe the freedom or academia, the proximity to other artists, but I can’t find that anywhere. I’ve lost it.

And I can’t create that here.

March, 2015

There was pillow talk,
some tenderness,
some hunger and some habit.
There was rhythm without bruises
of passion where I wish there had been.

There were headlights,
they tracked across the basement.
They caught me,
translated what the stillness of my face meant.

Carved, illuminated, thirsty,
Drink me, dearest,
there are worse things
than endings.

Like beginnings.

© 2015 Jes M. Z. Paragone


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