Favorite

Oct. 18, The Observer 

It was the typical Arkansas one-degree-of-separation thing. The gentleman we met at church was explaining to a group of people that his daughter played basketball for West Virginia and the group said didn't so-and-so's daughter play at West Virginia and he said so-and-so is my wife.

It was atypical too, in that the gentleman was black and the group gathered around him was white. Our connection was a beloved elementary school principal. The meeting took place after a service that brought a nearly all-white congregation together with a black congregation to commemorate another service held 50 years ago, one that was a call to reason in the wake of the crisis at Central High.

The principal's husband, it turned out, is also a preacher and invited us to his church, though he laughingly warned that it is “in the hood,” out by the Clinton Center. Still smiling, he told us that they'd recently tried to have pizza delivered to a meeting at the church. Nothing doing, the pizza parlor had said; we don't deliver to the East End. “Praise the Lord,” the gentleman laughed, which was his way of saying, what a world we live in. Still.

The Observer and several other people who keep binoculars at the ready could be seen standing in the middle of Colonial Court on Saturday afternoon, staring at something in monkey grass in front of a house. Every few minutes, one of them would get on a cell phone to call someone else to say, we've got a Virginia rail — no, rail, not reel — here on the street. What do we do? Drive it to a marsh in south Arkansas?

Drive away, unfortunately, was the consensus. Later, another passerby said, someone call Game and Fish! Someone did. No luck.

But what a sighting!

So here's what Charlie Johnson said: I'll see your rail and raise it 10 scissor-tailed flycatchers. “There seems to be an annual gathering of the tribe wherein the birds gather for a sort of pre-migration celebration,” he wrote the Times. “Currently I have seen evidence of their grouping together and viewed a tree behind the New Hebron Baptist Church at Maxwell and 10th Street — there seem to have been 10 to 20 birds in this group, but one must be careful for five of these birds may sound as if 20. ... I have noted larger groups — in one year in the cottonwoods/sycamores to the north of Trinity Street. I have claimed to have heard hundreds.”

From Fayetteville, a note:

“One Saturday night a while back I felt so powerfully that I just HAD to dance, and I mean really dance. (Living with a bad cancer inside will do this to you.) Earl Cate and Jimmy Thackery were headining a blues festival at George's Majestic Lounge. As I dressed, I thought intensely: ‘Lord, let there be some fetching one, one who also really wants to dance, and put her near me, please, this summer Saturday night.'

“Well, prayer is truly powerful. She was most beautifully petite, her face like a '30s model, all blonde curls and softnesses and coy smile, sitting at a table of friends. (Visiting from Denver, I later was told.) I had no seat, leaned on a pillar, and stole glances. After a while she came over and stood near me, moving with the music. She knew.

“I said, ‘Hi ... you wanna dance with a stranger?' She said yes with her eyes, and off we went to dance many times. The softness took my breath away, each sweet time.

“ ‘Lord, thank you,' I thought, from first sight, and with each easy dance.

“It was the best music I'd heard in forever ... they were setting the stage on fire.

“At break, I sat inside at the bar, wrote down this poem, and gave it to her 15 minutes later. We danced some more. A friend pulled me aside at one moment, and said, ‘Who's your new girlfriend?' I only smiled.

“I never saw her again after that sweet summer blues night. I believe she's probably on assignment somewhere else ...

“When dance/is the only way/it might seem/to light this night

“and a beauty blues angel

“blesses a stranger/with her soft grace,

“it might sway/even what seemed

“lost

“back to beauty/felt blessed again.”

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Fritz Brantley

  • Words, Dec. 20

    Introducing an old movie on the old movie channel the other night, the host told an old story. The story is untrue, although I suppose the host, semi-old, believed it.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • He talks, and talks, the talk

    A fellow posted an old newspaper article on his blog about a Mike Huckabee speech to a religious group in 1998. A friend faxed the article to me, then called to ask if I’d yet read it, which I had.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • Going whole hog

    A Q&A with irreverent Arkansas-raised comedian Matt Besser
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016
  • Yawp

    The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover.
    • Mar 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in The Observer

  • Dumb and smart, at the same time

    The Observer spent the week at a bar and thought a lot about a joke and its writer.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • -30-

    A newspaper died up in Atkins a few weeks back, not with a bang or a whimper, but with the sound of change jingling in a pocket, just too little of it to keep the printing presses rolling.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Does she know?

    Did Kim Walker-Smith, when recording "Throne Room" for her new record "On My Side," truly understand the power of her music? Does she now know that her song was the one that played on the radio as Michael Reed thumped into the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds and brought it on down?
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation