Where the river makes a little bend, it’s The Last Chance Saloon. White cap spray stings their faces. Delayed reaction time. Patrolling at their deepest depths old karmic weeds, hell-spawn history, divine fate. Lights in a death-row string above the doorway in that slant direction, the pressure of the moment, the hard evening sunshine. A red sun bleeding up the skin. Like a mirror was there. But it’s not, it never will be, & now everyone realized the moment has passed: something about survival, what the word is really about, the floor that is smoking. They dance however they want to. You got to be called to do this, says Dick, a string through the words, to Jane at the bar, poking a finger through one of its dime-sized bullet holes. They may be within rifle shot at any time. A Bud carefully held between her legs. She is present but not here. A million promises have perched on the point of a sharp needle. She faces inland to keep dark river water from flooding in. Eyes swirl white, a postcard trying to get elsewhere. The mouth open just enough to permit a rush of water over the top. Water will save you as easy as it will kill you says Jane. It watched the human flesh with chilling concentration. People living on a river, over a river, under a river, outside a river. Skins and the liquids. There is no truth. There is just a bunch of truths that all contradict each other, says Dick. There should be the sense that the end is due; that enough, and no more than enough, has been said on the subject, and there is. A story that comes to a full stop. You know I’m a fan of big dark objects says Jane, at the wall of water closing in, just feet away. Let’s start over, then says Dick… Only after disaster can we be resurrected says Jane.
Cheyenne Nimes is the 2009 winner of DIAGRAM’s hybrid essay contest. She graduated from the nonfiction writing program at Iowa. Her first MFA- poetry- was from San Francisco State University, where her first book of poems, Passing Through Ninety Degrees, was published and garnered an NEA. She was a 2009 writer in residence at the Iowa Art Museum.