Crazy M has no employees and answers the phone five times a day because people call to ask what is cod, what is halibut. At least five times a day. People in Montana don’t know their fish, she says. She reaches over the bar and sets two baskets of halibut and fresh slaw before us.
First I take this photo. Then we ask for forks. The way she serves her fish no utensils are required. But what about the slaw?
Oh! She laughs, disappearing behind a curtain to find two clean forks. Back there is where she makes her secret batter. Out here, everything is on display. What you get is whatever it is you see.
Last week I dreaded leaving my house in 30 below wind chills to work at our art museum’s annual art auction. In that kind of cold you can’t walk fast, but walking fast is the only way you want to move. Given enough time a person learns to slide or never leave the house.
I wore a volunteer badge and until the auction began, I had no artwork to wrap for patrons. This was when I came across Rabbit’s son participating in a Quick Draw exhibit. The same slow boom, the same authentic reach. Though we had never met before, and though I was not a patron who had paid $150 for a seat at the auction, he took time to find his wife and introduce us to each other. A warm gift wrapped in quiet paper—this hospitality. Later, I would wrap one of his paintings that had sold for thousands. Eight feet by eight feet, resting on my packing table. What does promise look like? Close your eyes and see: layers of Khowshisgun deep red evening smears.
Find me in the wilderness. These stained-glass lyrics and the thorns, piercing. Whatever society we live within, whatever century, we link. No matter I don’t believe in the pope or follow faithfully Catholic doctrine the way I was raised to do. Ashes on my forehead administered by the man with fat thumbs. To dust you will return. We are connected. Each of us to each other. No matter the century, the sidewalk, the phone calls we don’t make.
These ashes come from burning palm leaves because we can’t burn the stars.
Crazy M talks while she cooks, peering at us over the counter that separates us from her grill. This place feels like home. On the counter is a framed note from the Governor commending her for her fine fish, but she says she doesn’t remember serving him. Was he really here? She already has some steady customers: one with crutches and a bad leg stretched out in the narrow pathway in her fish hut. She tripped on his leg the first time she served him and asked him to move his leg, not realizing his situation. How it took both hands and torque. Now, he eats there every other day, but she tells us she won’t ask what happened to his leg. Because, she says, what if it was self-inflicted, we all know how that is.