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September 2015, vol 11 no 3

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Glenn Coats

The Rock Valley Session

To reckon with loss is to reckon with what hasn't been lost.
from "Confession" by David Means

My son is a thousand miles away from the highway and the state troopers, lawyers and creditors, the job he once had. He rents a few rooms in a town along the Gulf Coast. No job prospects. No driver's license. Far from all he lost, all he tossed away.

The town looks weathered like used clothes. Streets are busy with cars and there are homeless families moving along the highway. My son tells me the place attracts the hard-hit, ones with no place left to go. "Everyone has a story that you don't want to hear."

lonely places
in the sunset trees

All he owns that has value is up for sale. All the fish tanks, musical instruments, and fishing gear are up for grabs on Craigslist. What he no longer wants or needs is donated to the Salvation Army Store where he does his community service. "I have to start all over again," my son says. "The fines are just the icing on the cake."

I hold one of his acoustic guitars in my arms and lay sheets of music on his bed. My son plugs a solid body into an amp. He sits down, head bowed over the neck of his guitar, concentrates as I begin to play. He listens and waits then fills the room with bursts of melody, his fingers fly up and down the neck and notes bend as his pick flutters like a bird. He fleshes out tunes, giving them intensity and purpose. All the pain and anger, breathing life into songs and for the moment – a way for us to move forward.

a new year
the wind picks up
where it left off