Jack Balas, 1993; PLATTE RIVER STORY #2; acrylic and graphite on paper; 40" x 32"


"Sky was black with 'em and loud," he said, "thousan' times's many as 'er is now." But the only sound was him screwing a bulb in in the back and the sky above the Platte dims a notch. I pick up a music box and he shuffles to the front. "That one played nice had to jiggle it 'fore it'd work then," his hands edging to his stubble. He puts a log in the stove. Slowly it starts to sing as loud as his chair and we, in the meantime, fall silent. I pictured the chimney above us, the smoke spewing out in a long elastic bubble of white. And that's when it occurs to me that this was why we burned that log -- not so much for its heat as for this image we heard overtaking us -- the drift of a low shadow floating somewhere above conversation, a vague triangle of ash sweeping out across dusk, fanning an ember sky.