Locust House Variations, A Column by Adam Gnade, “I’ve Had More River Than I Can Stand (for RR)”

The day we found out we lost you was hot like Georgia heat—late-afternoon, silver mirage puddling the blacktop like mercury.

I remember the blasted-out light of summer—colorless, burnt tin, scorched. The smell of creek water, fresh-cut grass, wood smoke, gasoline.

The text was the kind of text you know is never good. “Please call me, okay? I’ve got bad news.” And that’s what I want to say most of all: Please call me, okay?

I think of all the calls I missed from you. The calls I didn’t catch because I wasn’t paying attention or the ones I let hit voicemail because sometimes what you brought was a threat to the stability I want. But I’d settle for that. The threat. The chaos of you living your songs without cease.

Mostly I want to talk to you again and when you lose someone that’s the first thing off the table. You are cut off from them like a great black wall is built up before you blocking out all the light in the world. Never again will you see their tired smile. You won’t ever tell them how angry you are that they left, how sad you are, how spun out by the news of their exit.

So I will remember you as magic. I will remember you as a fox, as thunder, as broken glass and splinters, as a train out from the west, as one of these sweet friends of mine; how I miss you so.

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