Kathryn M. Barber

forte crescendo fortissimo

bassnectar beats in my head, that forte crescendo fortissimo & there
weren’t any strobe lights in that basement but, I can see them anyway:
green flashes over shane’s tall white teeth, dunking a plastic ball into
twenty-one triangled cups; red flashes across julie’s laugh echoing
between those cement walls that held us together like one note; blue
flashes covering harvey’s hooping, hollering, telling them all I was
his girl I was his girl I was his girl. can still feel that forte crescendo
fortissimo from that stereo welling up now as I crouch in a portapotty
out in the middle of nowhere mississippi & the truth is I can’t
remember how I got here, how none of them did. I remember: harvey’s
voice dropping over shane’s porch, that beer bong trailing down the
terrace into the yard, the cheers from the ground. this is harvey’s girl
they said harvey’s girl. but inside this porta-potty, I can’t hear harvey or
shane or julie or any of them. they’re all gone, back in tennessee, & I’m
here without them, & what I hear now is the forte crescendo
fortissimo of bassnectar live, under a tent under mississippi-heated
stars: real yellow flashes, green lights illuminating cut offs & sandals,
orange circles of joints glowing in the dark. & the truth is I’m only
here because harvey would be here if he weren’t hundreds of miles                                                  away, back home in tennessee. instead, there’s ben, hanging just
under the drape of that tent, some guy I met on a bus to new york city
last thanksgiving. what I remember most about ben is he was sitting
beside me the first time I heard miranda lambert’s “same old you,”
& right there outside that golden tower I didn’t know to hate yet, I
thought, if I don’t leave I’ll be the same old me the same old me the
same old me hollering from the top of a porch, dripping vodka from
my tongue like the lakewater dripped off those life vests when we dove
from those rocks. can still taste his words in my ear: I love you I love
you I love you don’t you know that? but now I’m stumbling out from
this porta-potty thinking about that golden tower in new york city,
ben beside me. we came from the same hometown & never met, & he
went to a big state university & I went to a tiny private baptist college
just miles down a back road, & we still never met. instead we met on
that bus from tennessee to new york city. & now three months after
those college graduations, I’m in mississippi for grad school, & he’s in
mississippi because he got stationed at the base twenty minutes down
the highway, & so we don’t mean to be together after harvey thought
we were actually together & we weren’t, & we still aren’t, but the thing
is that ben is here & harvey is gone. I wanted harvey to be gone, I did,
& now he swells up inside me like that forte crescendo fortissimo &
when I think of him: beer sloshed on a concrete floor & cop lights in the
windows & shane laughing & the smell of nattie light & jager & sweat
& I remember how I couldn’t run from that small tennessee mud town                                                 fast enough. had to get out had to get out had to get out & now I’m out
& the truth is I don’t care about ben or bassnectar, what I miss is harvey
& so I lean into the music & I scream beside ben & I bang my head in
time with his & the forte crescendo fortissimo of that same basement
anthem becomes
harvey (f) har VEY (cresc) HARVEY (ff).

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