Memory or Memory of Dreams?


Early eyelid movies. A red canna, glowing against green foilage. Blue skies with contrails. Red speckled apples rotting amid red leaves. Brown and gold carpet. Painting of Jesus in a gilded frame. Funeral procession on black & white TV, over and over and over. And over. Like the whole world has died. Held by the hand, down to see dad at the Spokane Chronicle (“the Chron”), running the crazy linotype machine nonstop, edition after edition, and the smell of hot lead, indescribable but unforgettable. Out the windows, flashing lights of movie houses.

Then the Beatles, Ed Sullivan looking perplexed. Parents looking perplexed. “Downtown” playing everywhere, and everywhere city lights, Christmas lights, tiki lounge with torches burning out front. Rainy Olympia, Washington, in a rented VW bug, the windows continually fogging. Steady procession of foggy neon bar signs. Staying in mildewed motel rooms with black dial telephones, tracer bulbs outside the windows, light show on the curtains and darkened walls. Good-bye Ru-by Tues-day. And the rain, the rain. My uncle, big, red-faced and laughing, hole in his shoe, water squishing in his sock as he crossed the room to open another beer. Who could hang a name on you?

A duplex on the Olympic Peninsula, could see the snowy Olympic peaks from the back porch, peeking over a fence, and in the field beyond, ringneck pheasants strutting, suddenly flushed, a bird explosion. One night a violent thunderstorm, violet skies ripped, and tall, bearded man, a neighbor, trembling in our living room; he’d been struck by lightning and had the thumb-thick scar down his chest to prove it. Rough workman’s hands shaking. Then in Port Angeles, stairs, an endless flight of stairs up a hillside, until, out of breath, you reach the top, and below the dark roofs, the wharf with commercial fishing boats, the Stait of Juan de Fuca beyond, dull blue, white ferries leaving wakes on their way to Canada, and the wind blows, hair blowing around, the wind blows, and on the wind you can hear “…and everyone knows it’s windy.”

S

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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