the bass line


I ask my daughter, newly married, what it was like when she and her husband returned to his old hometown to attend a football game. He hadn’t been to one in some years. She laughed and told me he said, “Hey what happened to the boom?!”

This is why I tell her she is a writer. But she says she doesn’t write. She says she couldn’t write like I do.

I say, a writer is a writer even if she never writes. It’s the way she observes. the way she expresses herself. She’s the better storyteller. What I need to do is not come between my daughter and her sun.

Don’t be the shadow.


Even a cup of tea is subject to lunar tides. – Mary Ruefle


Things are selling like cupcakes, the lady in the booth next to ours exclaims every time someone asks her how her day at the Street Fair is going. She asks everyone why they are so beautiful. In the front of her booth, against paintings propped against a  purple chair, sits a cellophane box of four blueberry muffins on the pavement. We watch as shoppers shop. Painting, painting, oh, what? Muffins. In the back of her booth is a large salad bowl of coleslaw, uncovered. On the table she is trying to sell are two round platters covered in foil. Straw hats cover the foiled platters and we notice throughout the day that these are the only two items she never tries to sell.

The street fair is lively, and in our tent we can only witness what passes across the ten foot wide opening. The street is a stage and we are spectating. Across from us a six piece band plays a mix of bluegrass, blues, folk and what we call radio music. It doesn’t take too long before I have memorized the bass runs and in a slow moment I teach my daughter to play the bass runs with me. Wait for it, you’ll feel it and then you can not unhear it. Was it always this way, she asked? Or was it just this one song with a bass line you couldn’t ignore?

The bass carries us through the day. At odd moments she and I turn to each other, knowing before the bass plays it, what the bass will play. That shared head nod. The syncopated pulse.


My daughter and her husband are traveling north, one hundred miles, to a country wedding. The town has one motel, five rooms. The motel serves breakfast, only. If you want to eat any other meal, you’ll have to drive to Lewistown, thirty miles away. This is a town, my daughter says, where everyone brings their own creamer to the motel’s cafe for breakfast. A couple weeks ago the area experienced a flash flood and there has been concern the road to the wedding won’t be passable. Not to worry, the hosts reassure. They’ve marked an alternative route off the highway. Yes, the bridge is washed out, but don’t worry, just drive across it slowly.




About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

3 responses to “the bass line

  1. csbaehr

    Don’t worry. Just drive across it slowly. That is my favorite line.

  2. Ah, the bass line. So wonderful of you to notice. I wonder what you were selling from your booth.

  3. I’ve been absent from your blog too long. “Yes, the bridge is washed out, but don’t worry, just drive across it slowly.” Ah… 🙂
    (Can’t imagine you ever being the shadow.) 🙂

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