Scenes from a December Afternoon in Rivertown

By Harry Stoll

I parked in the lot by Antioch Lumber under a silverblue sky. On the glass river an outboard yellow boat was anchored facing upstream. Three still silhouettes held three poles, one facing aft one forward one facing the windblades spinning white across the river.

The eternal dog was let out of the eternal station wagon, his tongue hanging out looking forward to whatever was to be.

The waterhouse inlet was spiritual in its commonness under the slanting sun. The bridge rose in a shallow slight wiry arc across the eastern horizon.

I drove “downtown.” Outside Nature’s Bounty a Conestoga sat on the sidewalk. An animal cage lashed to it and totes and paper bags and blankets and clothes hanging haphazardly but with some definite grand plan. The undercarriage may have once been corporate.

I went in, the young counter woman said she couldn’t make me a sandwich they were soon to close. Only soup remained. Lentil curry. OK said I.

The wagonmistress of the Conestoga was there. I remembered her. Young, maybe once pretty but with a face scarred scared and red. I didn’t know the whereabouts of the soup spoons and she brought and offered them to me. I thanked her and tried for eye contact. Nothing. I believe I wrote about her several years ago in one of my river pilgrimages.

I drank the soup seated in my Caddie then headed a poetic west. The Antioch Radiator Company abandoned was still sinking one corner into the primordial muck. I passed the citadel PD, turned right toward the giant vise grips in the sky. Smacked down to the ground now. Storage units to go there.

“Conforms to the zoning for the area, the General Plan, the highest best use of the land, the Dead Hand, approval recommended with the findings of.”

I headed toward the civilized Hazel’s. To the south the sensuous folds of Diablo were dark when low and light when high.

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