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Image for Remember the Night?
Adapted from an image © Jurgen Sack

Remember the Night?

Remember the night when things slipped off on their own? You laughed and sang without knowing why. I disconnected the phone. Did you see the rushing forest or the openings that formed in the sky? I tried to describe them to you but you danced and yelled, we can try, we can try! When was it you tapped me and said we were no longer there? A stroke fell like noon. We tumbled into the seat all askew. The taxi-lady Jane said, what the hell? She was old and kind. You said, take us to the next vision.

The meter ticked like a liberty bell. Moss grew on the bill of her cap. I didn’t care! Lady Jane laughed. She said, take your time, take your time, tires squealing and the traffic a blur. The meter slowed down we speeded up into this tunnel goin’ straight down for sure! You said here we go! I tore at my hair. Now Jane she tossed us an egg that swelled up until we found ourselves in this high white chamber with no distinguishable corners or planes. I said, this is where we were meant to be, and you said, remember to keep taking your time.

Then we heard music, jazz it was, a sax doing this old standard where the words are so familiar. Until there was a riff where you disappeared. I knew you were there in the place where the unexpected notes came in. I thought if I could say what the new words were, where it might as well be spring leapt into a new season, a new piano and bass following the sax where you were, taking your time, singing, this is happening, happening, among trapezes and high wires, where the spangled smiles crack like whips, the hand-claps in the percussion the lights stabbing through smoke. You were there, above the tight-wire that hummed when you reached down and plucked it.

Everything folded with the bass solo that spread into a field of light, of wild rice lashing in the wind and rain. Gusts made patterns on the lagoon. The sky cleared and you came up streaming water-lilies, tossing droplets as you shook your head. Come on, I laughed, I’ve got towels, let’s go home.

Copyright © 2008 by R. Virgil Ellis


R. Virgil Ellis

Ron writes:
I wanted in this piece to abandon any and all preconceptions about what fiction is or how it should be written, to let my mind tap whatever well it wished: the unconscious, free association, bits of fact or memory; and release what Coleridge long ago termed Primary Imagination, the mind’s synthesizing power. I didn’t know whether I was following a narrative curve or not, but picked and chose among the options my mind presented until the “you” in the piece emerged from the rice field. At this point, both the narrator and the “you” rejoice in the freshness of their new world, which is after all the “ordinary” world.

Ronald Virgil Ellis lives near Cambridge, Wisconsin. Parallel Press published his chapbook Bone Flute. Among his electronic works are a CD titled The Story of Andro: A Rock Cantata, and a DVD titled Golgonooza. Garrison Keillor has read Ron’s poetry on the NPR program The Writers Almanac. Cezanne’s Carrot awarded an editor’s prize to his “Canto 27: This fabric canvassing the wind” and nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. He is Associate Editor of Rosebud Magazine and is an Emeritus Professor who taught literature and media at UW-Whitewater. For a detailed description of his work see his Web site He can be contacted via email at:

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