THROUGH A LOOKING GLASS DARKLY


I grew up in Wonderland. I can say this now, after having lived and died a little in some of the ugliest cities. Brevard, NC is an impossible town, and it should have died like it did every night at 9 PM when the traffic lights down town went off duty and reverted to four-way flashers. It should have hemorrhaged to death when so many of us left it, bleeding.

Life after Brevard consisted of marrying your high school sweetie, snagging a second shift job at Du Pont or Olin with the right influence, and hopefully, getting a double wide so say, in ten years and with a lot of overtime, you’d get a real home one day. Or you could get out, go to college, find a decent job never once thinking of the wounds or how inane it was, back then.

Exactly an hour later almost as an addendum, the one TV channel with consistent reception reminded our parents it was 11 o’ clock, and somehow, as if it were possible, not knowing where we were was the last thing they heard, the constant back question: Do you know where your children are?

Yes, we were cuturally deprived. The population inside city limits strained to top 5500. You knew everyone and everyone knew you, and even if you did not comprehend it, there was security in this, and a little resentment at not being able to live so unanonymously. The lone radio station was AM, and on week nights, the melodious voice of John Anderson brought us serenely to “the close of another broadcast day”, promptly at 10 PM and the strains of his voice were the last heard of the day for many of us.

You waited on everything in Brevard, and you waited for Brevard to catch up to the rest of the world, but it could not, and you knew it.

Mustangs, Barracudas, Chevelles, Impalas- all those horses and nowhere to run- the dichotomy of excess speed in a town that prided itself, almost to the point of codification, on operating at the pace of thickening molasses.

Go ahead and laugh at this, but on Friday nights in summer, the parking lot which now comprises Princess Plaza was cordoned off for square dancing. Do-se do, I kid you not. The whole town turned out. You slapped your face with Canoe or English Leather, slick in your favorite jeans, leaning against -something-until you found the courage or waited for the competition to die down so you could sidle up to Anne or Beth or Cindy or Marsha and ask for this next round?

You could not help but worry just a little because what if the Hokey Pokey really IS what its all about? How would you know? Left foot in, do-se-do.

Maybe you’d get lucky. Maybe a friend shared a can of beer with you, fresh from a “run” to Hendersonville. Not enough so you could feel it, but enough to leave a taste in your mouth for more, and enough to taint your breath and enhance your image. Image was all we had at times.

The bowling alley was the hottest place in town, except of course for Hardee’s. Before everything and after everything, there was Hardee’s. The simplicity of it was its appeal: you want to be found, go to Hardee’s. There you’d catch a glimpse of a wild Mustang perhaps, or split an order of fries. Even the cops had names like “Elvis” and “Tinker” and most of the time, they’d be hanging too, only parked conspicuously in the center of the lot with the window down.

Paegentry and dances were relegated to the American Legion, and we cut up, showed off, smoked an joked under the ancient machinery of a WWII anti aircraft gun whose trajectory would have placed a round about three feet over the court house and made impact say, close to Wal Mart, windage and elevation being considered.

To the students at Brevard College we were “townies”; to the tourists we were “hicks”. Always, there was this battle for our own town. Some of us fought it while others hung back considering Brevard not worth an ass kicking. But we shared a common perplexity, and try as we might, could never grasp the concept of driving 100 or maybe 150 miles just to look at LEAVES. White squirrels were common as mud, and any kid who had his driver’s license over 60 days knew every waterfall within 30 miles by rote.
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As inevitable as daffodils in spring were the well-intended young women who arrived from UNC-Asheville. I never asked, but there had to be some deep spiritual power that propelled them onto the capstone of the court house retaining wall to save our dying town.

This was done usually at the top of their rather expanded lungs and usually, when mixed with the background of traffic, was for the most part unintelligble. But you learned to read their faces and even if you missed your appointed hour, you knew something serious was going on, and that there would surely be a next time.

“The City On The Hill” has been euphemised since the time of the ancients. In the Bible, it signifys both strength and depravity. Nostradamus saw it over and over and over. Those few of us fortunate enough to have lived there knew its pinnacle conjoined at the corner of Main and Jail House Hill, precisely where the wisewomen from Asheville stood.

They call Rome the Eternal City. I argue with history from time to time.
If you lived this Brevard, you know it like you knew your first kiss, you know it now with your eyes closed, it has always been. It resides on tongue- tip like the good news ready to spring forth across the land, it is deeper than skin, a fabric of which a part of you is indelibly woven.

My best years. Wonderland and “The Last Picture Show” with a Buck Owens twist. Red pill or blue, it is waiting for you.

NOSTALGIA by D.L.McHale


image

In my mind’s recess, a soft caress
of memories and days gone by
A kaleidoscope of love and hope
And answers to the “Why?”

I fall within and live again
Those magic days bygone
My thoughts set free in reverie
Warmed by a setting sun

Another time in perfect rhyme
Now formed in my revision
I’m lifted up as I fill my cup
With reflection and a vision.

Within my dream, or so it seems
The best of times has past
Yet still somehow, I cherish “Now”
And tighter still my grasp

Outside my mind my thoughts unwind
And now today returned –
For yesterday is still no way
To face the future’s turn.

Echoes of Paradise


My memories are full and round.
I clasp them between my palms,
supranational spheres of times left behind.
They are unbreakable, solid, and beautiful.
Echoes stuck in an infinite loop of movements;
falling in love and dying over and over again.
It would be easy to let go.
Unbelievably easy just to separate my hands
and let them fall to the ground.
Instead I swallowed them.
They knock around in my chest when I breathe.
Ringing like a wind chime made of glass marbles;
if you listen closely you can hear the patterned glass
clinking against one another when I talk,
causing cracks in my smile when I say hello.

Visitation


Gray shadows fall upon my face

Here within this sacred place;

The stone so cold, and roughly hewn

Beneath this waning winter moon

The air is thin and so am I

My heart is heavy, I start to cry

 

Each letter of her chiseled name

Is lit as though with golden flame

My fingers trace the shallow grooves

As though with touch I could disprove

She is no more, and I am less

Without her voice and soft caress

 

Bereft and full of memories

I rise up from on bended knee

I place a rose upon her grave

Each petal but a kiss I’ve saved

And slowly do I turn for home

Only now, I walk alone.

Do You Remember…


Do you remember…

our first walk along the beach?
I didn’t think you would ever stop laughing
as the tide rushed in and out
to tickle your naked ankles,
and I, caught up in an impossible tangle
of seaweed tumbled absurdly into the
cold, frothing surf.

I sat there, sheepishly, looking up into
your smiling eyes and there,
beneath the screaming gulls and the hot summer sun,
I pulled you to me.

Do you remember…

all those lazy, late night strolls
beneath the star-flecked winter skies?
We would hold hands like innocent children
sharing the warmth of our closeness
and the shared heat of not so innocent thoughts.

I would steal a teasing glance
to catch the moonlight weaving silver strands
of light in your wind-swept hair.
You would catch me…and smile,
shyly pretending not to notice.

Do you remember…

our Sunday morning breakfasts in bed?
Was it just by accident, or guile,
that our eyes would lock above
the steaming rims of our coffee cups?
Then, being far too hungry to eat,
we would dive beneath the summer quilts
to satisfy our deeper desires!

Do you remember…

the little things I used to meticulously plan
just to coax the wonder from you liquid eyes?
The love notes tucked so obviously beneath your pillow;
the chilled fruit and cheap apricot brandy after
a hot night of fevered love;
the bubble gum stashed in your purse
for those days you insisted on being so serious?

But how could you remember?
I haven’t even met you yet.

Yet when I do, my love,
have I got some memories for you!