Jim Davis


I leaned over and held up the page I had been reading.
Excuse me, miss, can you help? What’s this word mean: transmute?
She guessed wrong. Still I asked her to dinner, she said she would
meet me in the hotel lobby at the fountain – I know a place, she said.
It was early and I had some writing to do, a short biography
on Toribio Losoya – the Hispanic Texan who stood at the Alamo
with pistol and powder-horn, a lesser known figure
in the shadow of Travis, Crockett, and Bowie.
I did some laundry. I lay my head down and lifted it
an hour later. The sun had set and I resigned
to no longer write about drinking beer, so I ate an apple
and drank two tall beers and went down to the pool
for a swim. The apple kept surprising me with spots,
a sort of interior rot that could not keep me from drawing
parallels to myself. The rest of the cans were in the sink
with a few handfuls of ice, covered in a cold towel.
I swam a few lengths, held the edge and went under.
A quick flash of memory, a weekend in college when I read
my then-girlfriend a line of verse I labored over
so it might sound confident, casual, sincere. She said that’s nice
and moved on. I came up for breath and went for a shower.
That evening we met in the lobby at the fountain
near a large framed reproduction of one of Cezanne’s Bathers.
I pointed and nodded, she said her young niece
could have painted that, I don’t understand
how people survive in that line of work. They don’t I said.
At dinner she ordered a plate of ravioli and wine sauce.
I had brisket and potatoes, a small salad and a beer.
I excused myself to the bathroom and left out a side door,
walked along the river for a while, which was nearby, and saw
a number of famous people do ostentatious things.
I saw a single bluebird and sketched a picture of it on the back of a napkin.
I continued walking until, days later, I happened again upon the restaurant.
She was still sitting there, crying. I sat down beside her.
What’s the matter? I thought you left, she said.
She knotted napkin, dabbed her nose and smiled. I sat for a while
and ordered a drink and told her about the bluebird. So what do you do?
she asked. I’m a painter, I said. She packed and left before my beer arrived,
moved to Houston, I think, she always wanted to go there. I saw a man
in a white Stetson cowboy hat tap table salt into his beer, so I did the same.
Then I heard the river speak. Yes, I said. Oh yes. Cezanne slid past
in a red canoe. No, green. There, I said, he’s done it.
I dipped a brush into the river, and sure enough, it was green.
Green alright, and never-ending.

Jim Davis graduated from Knox College with a degree in Studio Art, and is currently studying Education and Psychology at Northeastern Illinois University, and Studio Art at Chicago's Vitruvian School while applying to MFA programs. His work has appeared in Seneca Review, Whitefish Review, Blue Mesa Review, Poetry Quarterly, and Contemporary American Voices, among others. His first chapbook, Feel and Beat Again, will be available this fall from MiTe Press.
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