Across the Years, Tony Press
Originally published in the Journal of Microliterature (5/13/2012)
The guy walked to his motorcycle, climbed on, made the sign of the cross, and drove off. I wondered did he do that every time or was there something on his mind that prompted the act. There was no church on the block, so that wasn’t it. But away he went, heading south toward the highway, and I continued in the same direction, but on foot, and, as far as I could tell, less protected than he. I’ve heard that poetry is prayer, and I’ve read that fiction can be true, and I’ve played in both pools, but I’ve never felt any more secure after doing either.
For most of my life I had no religious or spiritual leanings, but I have a sort-of-a friend who is a priest, and a real friend who used to be a nun. I also knew an ex-priest toward the end of his life, and that was a powerful time for each of us. I think had I known him earlier – he had been a priest for thirty years, then not one for twenty – I would have learned something more, though I can’t say what it would be, about my own life. I now claim I’m a Buddhist but sometimes it is only a claim.
Once I was a disc jockey, in the days when disc jockeys played music and spoke into the night with dulcet tones. I worked the late shift, and sometimes the all-nighter, spinning tales of woe and wonder and lust, with 45s, albums, and my own voice. I felt connected to unseen folks in ways I’ve rarely felt with people right in front of me. It’s like when I travel and speak Spanish, and I find myself far more open, with new friends and with strangers, than I am at home, in English. Speaking into the microphone, tucked into Studio A and the dim light of the board, I was both encouraged and encouraging, with no sense of expectation. Would that all of our conditions offered the same.
There was something about giving my words into the night airwaves, just putting them out there, where they might descend beyond my control or imagination. Everyone should have such an opportunity. All these years later, I often wonder if anyone remembers what I might have said. I can remember much of the music, but little of the language.
All these years later – there’s a phrase I never anticipated – I speak less, and listen more, and hold the embrace a little bit longer.
Maybe the motorcycle guy feels the same, and that’s how he deals with it. At the corner, coming from a jukebox across the street, I hear somebody sing: “I’ll never get out of this world alive.”
I make the sign of the cross and walk on.
Tony Press often quotes Chief Broom: “But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.” He enjoys Oaxaca, Mexico; Bristol, England; and Brisbane, California. His story collection CROSSING THE LINES (Big Table) can be found on Amazon and at some wonderful bookstores.
Tony doesn’t have a website, but you can read an interview with him here: http://litseen.com/tony-acarasiddhi-press/
And get his digital chapbook here: http://www.righthandpointing.net/tony-press
And visit his facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/tony.acarasiddhi.press