Kristall Slanted Light

Refractions, reflections, and sadness

Terry Barr

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Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

11/9/23 (Belated)

I don’t hate November, but lately I’ve slanted in that direction. Generally, I love the golden colors, and even the way the sun hits the brick wall toward the back of our house.

In those rays I think of my grandmother, the brick set of apartments where she lived when I was a boy, and how in November when we’d go to see her on those late Sunday afternoons, she and my Aunt Carole wouldn’t cook out for us because the wind would invade their thoughts of fire, would keep them huddled inside, and so we’d eat kosher food from the local deli, and this would be the first marker in the way I understood us to be Jewish.

I loved those Sundays until I learned more about petty and real jealousies, the triangulation that caught me in the middle of some war between my parents and between my mother and her mother-in-law, with my dad never trying to be peacemaker.

Now I see that this was all a tenuous strip of land, un and non-negotiable, really, or at least by me. I understand what it means to try to be a peacekeeper, when in the end, nothing was kept but the slants of light that hit me so forcefully as I realize that I can’t distinguish my own feelings from the ones imposed on me, occupied within me by another’s feud.

I get confused a lot. Lately, we’ve been watching Dickinson, The Bear, Grace and Frankie, and I’m losing the threads of who’s desiring whom, and what role I should play in my own kitchen, and which character is Jewish, which Italian, and who is gay or not, and just how badly do I want to visit Chicago or Amherst or even San Diego? And how I should feel about pork and beef?

I learned recently that Jeff Tweedy converted to Judaism, and I hear his music everywhere. Lately it’s this song that I can’t get out of my addled mind:

“I’ve outlived my dreams
I empty my suitcase
In the street in the rain
Time slows like a new Van Gogh
Setting fire to the frame…”

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Terry Barr

I write about music, culture, equality, and my Alabama past in The Riff, The Memoirist, Prism and Pen, Counter Arts, and am an editor for Plethora of Pop.