OK, so it’s been a while since I was in Ok., and so I sit up late at night again like I used to in ’93, smoking too much, and letting my cup of ice water get warm by my bed – and will I ever get back to it?

Driving those OK City streets far away from NY – empty 2am streets buzzing with caffeine and lovelovelove.

I’m so afraid of getting stuck here in the east, I want to go back west, though when I was there I dreamed too much for the woods.  Could I make the desert a home?

So, OKC circa 1991, back in school, shooting for the teaching certificate, although I needed so many credits that I just enrolled in the Master’s program.

As it happened, that particular Master’s program was also serving a fairly large group of Native American students from tribes and reservations all over the west.

The nights – autumn nights – outside smoking under the stars and class – Where is she tonight, boy?  Where   does   she   sit   tonight?  Where’s the left-handers desk?  I need to sit at the lefty desk so my prematurely aging back won’t ache.

And then after a couple of months – Oh boy, there it is – the Lefty desk – right next to her.

And I can’t concentrate for shit because I don’t want to concentrate for shit.  All I want is to drink her in right next to me, knowing somehow that she doesn’t mind and she doesn’t.

And she talks to me like no problem ’cause we’re right next to each other and it’s o.k. because    it    justhappened, man.

I did just what I do every other night and she just does her thing and – ya know what?  There we are sittin’ right down next to each other and little shy little class talk is nothin but so comfortable so comfortable like it could go on but maybe it can’t, and it definitely can’t ’cause we’re right in the middle of class but that’s alright ’cause time moves and the autumn goes.

And the autumn nights under the stars – smoking and “Can you see the satellite?” says Lester from Colville.  “That white kid from NY – he ain’t never seen the Milky Way.”

And so Lester shows me the satellite – you can see it moving up in the sky.  And outside smoking in the autumn night where we can’t talk to each other out there with everybody else ’cause you know they’ll knowtice, but everything works out and then we do get a chance.

As the air gets a little bit colder, as autumn moves on, and we each do our thing – and she has a boyfriend, but then, when does she not have a boyfriend?

And I see her in my dreams, and she dreams that we kiss in class, and I dream of her in tribal regalia playing tennis and of the class when I wear black and cream and she wears cream and black which really happens weeks later and weirdly deja vu and all that shit.

And this is after we’ve talked, after I stood outside shivering because just to hear her voice, and feel her gaze and engaged, and can’t move and don’t ever want to move – just stand out in the cold and listen to her talk and talk ’cause that’s all we do.  The two quiet ones – just talk and talk and talk.

And finals come through and we go out the last night to a bar near campus and I play love songs on the jukebox and Lennie her roommate (Lenora) makes fun of me for putting a love song on the juke (sugar babe, sugar babe, van morrison).

And then we go to the cowboy bar and hang out drinkin and smokin, and I see Lester playin pool, so I want to play pool with her, but I can’t just-ask-her, you know.  That ain’t right.  So I gotta ask John (Montana Cree),

“Hey, John, you wanna play some pool?”

‘Cause I really do want to play anyways.  But John don’t wanna play, dummy.  He’s busy talkin.

“Why don’t you ask Sharon if she wants to play?”

“Um, o.k.”

And she does, man.  And we play pool until the time melts away and there’s just the two of us in that cowboy bar, with the spirit of Jim Maddox who drives me to tell lame ass boasting jokes about how I used to be a champeen bull rider on that mechanical bull, man.

And we just play pool and it’s like nothing, but comfortable and comfortable and easy, man, and uneasy.  And it feels good, and then we’re off, into a big ass Oklahoma rainstorm and “I’ll take John to the bus, man.”  See him off – he’s goin back to Montana (Rocky Boy), and I’m goin back to NY for 10 days, anyway.  But I’ll wait, man.  I’ll wait till 2nd semester and see.

(Tappan Ferry, N.Y.  Summer 1995)

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