"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

16 October 2016


I didn’t want it to end, but it was time. Harrison said Linda had dinner going on the stove. Beer unfinished, he made his way slowly out of the bar and I thought of the many paths in his life, which is so tied to Michigan, and which in a reliably sturdy fashion has yielded so much poetry and prose to the delight of so many. I was teetering on the brink of irreconcilable homesickness when I started reading him years ago. This night, on his way out of the Wagon Wheel, Harrison himself teetered, leaning heavily on his cane. I wondered how this man, so vibrant on the page, got so damn old and frail? In my time with him, I kept thinking of lyrics from Guy Clark’s song Desperados Waiting for a Train:
“To me he’s one of the heroes of this country;
 So why’s he all dressed up like them old men?”
Harrison, unsurprisingly, has answered the unasked question with a line of his own poetry.

“‘Our bodies are beautiful women never meant to be faithful to us,’” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, moments before our goodbye.

Should I have told him what his writing meant to me? In the end, I simply paid for our drinks, something Harrison never lets guests do, the waitress informed me.

“I’m glad you didn’t turn out to be a [unprintable],” he said as we left.

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