John Morrison reads "Notes Between Swing and Graveyard" from his book Heaven of the Moment , at the Douglas County Headquarters Library in Roseburg on May 13th. John was part of the Oregon Book Awards Author Tour to Klamath Falls, Medford and Roseburg on May 12th and 13th.
Notes Between Swing and Graveyard
We were on our first real wage job, summer at the Del Monte plant, at night an island of pink light in the wide valley's dark sea. After a month of apricot, we sorted tomatoes from rats for ketchup, soup, sauce, and saved the firm for Safeway. The married few on the shift made each of us long for a lover to make money beside us
and then, at home in an apartment on Iowa or Mays Street, wander her body still damp from sweat, still dulled by work into the morning, as far as muscle could last. Without a wife, without a girlfriend, and so worn out by the season of packing and canning that took use with sore hands and sour hair to the lip of sunrise, who would have us?
Who could find us? We began to swap notes with the senoritas and girls from the other high school who giggled and left swing as we pulled up for graveyard. More florid each night, more freighted with moon and stars and promises, our missives were drawn on jagged corners of kraft paper used to line the crates of ripening fruit. I wrote to Reneé,
and she wrote back and we never said a word on the thick folds slipped in each other's locker. I'd write at break, the dead center of night, as her strawberry hair must've spilled across her pillow in sleep. Her notes to me I would jam unread into my jeans pocket rather than ever share with my friends. Shift's end, in the gravel parking lot, before starting my ailing truck
and heading off, slowly I'd unfold her sweet cursive like the gift it was, as the light outlined the distant Sierra, with day just coming up around me and read and know her teases counted like a dream left in sleep.