A Current

Jill Talbot


At the mouth of a river, the bend of an elbow, a joint with a jukebox, the records my father spun now stacked in storage, locks on the front and back door I check in the middle of every night, the hour I pour a glass of Chardonnay as the sun winks behind the building across the street, crossing my legs, a slow slide up and over, the rainbow behind the boarded up roadside diner with the two phone booth husks where travelers used to duck their heads and grip receivers, chords my young fingers couldn’t reach on the piano keys, notes I jot in the margin next to passages I’ve underlined, wow, the letters that haunt the marquees of closed drive-in theaters, all those old cars with window cranks, the handle of a convenience store door, a key I keep in a kitchen drawer with rubber bands, batteries, and my father’s wallet, cards my mother mailed to me years ago still on the refrigerator, shelves of books I’ve packed and packed again in boxes I picked up from the backs of liquor stores, on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, a girl in a flat-bed Ford slows down, the street view of my childhood home on Google shows the black mailbox still leans, its stubborn door, the hinge at the back of the throat when we can’t say what needs to be said, words on a hotel postcard by a stranger in 1952—lovely ride, regardless of the heavy rain—in elegant script, the hands on the clock in my kitchen, little hand at twelve, big hand at six, the birthday I got my Bicentennial Huffy, the bike I sped down sidewalks and in and out of empty driveways, concrete I sat on one summer outside a gas station in New Mexico after calling a tow truck, waiting, The waiter took the brandy bottle and another saucer from the counter inside the cafe and marched out to the old man’s table, the chair I sit in as I write this, and that song that makes me stop whatever I’m doing at the line, In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you, a vintage phone on an end table in my living room, rotary, black, the coat Robert Redford wears in The Way We Were, a movie theme song, sheet music I still have with the names of notes I wrote in the measures in pencil, squiggles of tar on a road’s shoulder, the weight of memory, an echo, the sound of coins falling down a vending machine, the quarter and three dimes I found in a coat pocket of my father’s after he died.


Jill Talbot is the author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir and Loaded: Women and Addiction, and the editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction. Her writing has been recognized four times in Best American Essays and has appeared in journals such as AGNI, Brevity, Colorado Review, Diagram, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, LitMag, Longreads, The Paris Review Daily, and The Rumpus. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at University of North Texas.



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