Tuesday, July 31, 2012

City on a Hill (The story of Keely)

         The story of Keely. Sweet sad Keely. Artist and observer this one red heared and sad eyed she was; no, later, sapped of strength: a simple husk. Girl of a thousand cities, a dozen men: none fathers. A traveler when young, a wanderer by luck, not will. Of a half moon woman born. This woman, this mother also a shattered soul, but a wanderer by necessity. Cigarette smoking at six am in the lemon balm sunrise of Yakima in the summer. Sitting, staring in the driver's seat of her secondhand red pickup eyes hard and cautious. Keely, young, curled in the front seat under a heap of blankets either too rough or too soft. Blankets smelling of soot, sweat or industrial detergent. Moving in and out of halfsleep for hours and hours. Always a sensitive nose on this Keely. Could smell fear as a rough animal undertone, love like a woody warmth. This was a curse in the diners and doublewides of her youth. Ammonia a swarm of chemical bees which stung her eyes. The scent of old beer like heavy stale bread that filled her nose and mouth and made her choke.
        Lovely Keely, lithe when older. Skinny, long hair taut to her shoulders. She: taunted.
       -Hey Ginger, hear laughs, makes the mistake and bites: turns to face the voice -Dropped your soul! When half grown Keely settles down in body, her soul though only begins its motions. Finds solace in music, in slow sad music and songs meant for those many years older than her. Songs for those who have been dealt the blows of life. Keely herself has been dealt blows, far more blows that one her age should know. Each move ripped out her roots, each night spent asleep in a car or cheap motel chilled her to the bone and drew her in a little more. And the men. The string of father. Changing as often as her homes, some stayed for a year. Most for months, weeks. They ignored her, never gave so much as a glance. Others made her an object: talked about "it" or "that". One hit, one worse.
       And the worst? That one was kind, saw what lay deep in Keely, her potential, and brought it out. In all the time past she had learned to read men like an old rancher reads cattle. He brought her out of herself and she bloomed. Breifly. When settled one Christmas she recieved from him a dusty warm sixstring. Her sixshooter. Soon after the mother lost her way, the man lost his patience and so sadly they parted. Keely lost this force; her rock. Thus the most painful man. The mother moved on but always after that  Keely kept him in her heart as a small empty space, unfillable by another. The guitar lay sullen and silent in the corner of her closet for almost a year when (as if drawn to it) bored and heartbroken, she picked it up and began to pick childhood songs out of tune. Those two were a perfect match and she found her language in the songs she wrote. Shy for so many years Keely kept her songs inside and the guitar gladly took on some of the scars she held. She pulled words and phrases from its grained skin with a dull brown pocket knife. Painted lilies on the neck and stained the head with flowers and bark which faded over time to a dull mottle. Hours everyday spent in her room added up to a great skill and imagination in song writing. Could tune it by ear in seconds.
      Self doubt, that nagging demon, lived in the ferriswheel of her heart, brought to her oscillations of worthlessness which kept the songs hidden for years. Found playing one day outside Steele Commons those few encouraging blushwords brought her to play in front of a crowd for the first time her freshman year. The applause sending surges and ripples unshown through her body. Feeling for the first time an acceptance that filled her soul..

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