Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Visions of Belleville Lake

I often return to this passage for one reason or another. Like Seger's "Night Moves," its imagery has the power to take me back to a different time and place. The time is aught five, that Spring of my Junior year in high school. The place is Belleville Lake. I was young, full of life and night. Some nights I just wasn't ready to go home. Unleashed with a brand new driver's license, I drove the back roads of my hometown aimlessly looking for something I couldn't explain.

I used to drive out to her house alongside Belleville Lake, parking along the ditch at the end of her winding driveway. I killed the headlights and waited. Once her parents had drifted off to the great campground behind the moon she would climb out her bedroom window, suddenly appearing at the passenger side door in her pajama sweats with that innocent smile and beckoning red hair. She would kiss me and we would think we were in love the way you do at that age, then we would drive out and park alongside the lake where the yellow moon spilled onto the cat tails and the placid water.

The windows fogged up, she cuddled into my arms and we promised each other we'd be together forever; it was the kind of promise that could only come from the hearts of the very young. Naive as we were, we believed it all. For a moment the world went silent. And the seaweeds rise and fall at night in Belleville Lake.

"Ginny Cupper took me in her car out to the spread fields of Indiana. Parking near the edge of woods and walking out into the sunny rows of corn, waving seeds to a yellow horizon. She wore a white blouse and a gray patch of sweat under her arms and the shadow of her nipples was gray. We were rich. So rich we could never die. Ginny laughed and laughed, white saliva on her teeth lighting up the deep red of her mouth, fed the finest food in the world. Ginny was afraid of nothing. She was young and old. Her brown arms swinging in wild optimism, beautiful in all their parts. She danced on the long hood of her crimson Cadillac, and watching her, I thought that God must be female. She leaped into my arms and knocked me to the ground and screamed into my mouth. Heads pressed into the hot Indiana soil and pinned me in a cross. A crow cawed into the wide sun. Ginny had driven her long Cadillac through the guard rails of a St. Louis bridge and her car shone like a clot of blood in the mud and murk of the Mississippi. We were all there in the summer silence of Suffolk, Virginia, when the copper casket was gently placed in the cool marble vault. I smoked a cigarette and crushed it out on the black and white squares of the tomb. In the stagnant emptiness of the train station after the cars were gone, I walked into the women's toilet and saw the phallic obscenities on the wooden doors and gray walls. Ginny had gardenias in her lovely brown hair. I hear the train. The world's silent. Crops have stopped growing. Now they grow again."

J.P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man 

1 comment:

  1. You should read some Henry Miller, he's a Dude