By Christopher Brean Murray

I first heard his name in passing. Someone
was rinsing coffee from a spoon, saying, “That’s just
how Merriweather is . . .” I was new to the city.
I was emailing my CV around and smiling politely
at new faces. I noticed that people really deferred
to this Merriweather—his first name? A man I met
at a potluck had camped with Merriweather in Patagonia.
Merriweather had gotten him and his friends
out of a jam when the stove gas ran low and a sharp sleet
hemmed them in for days. Another guy explained
that Merriweather had secured for him and his fiancée
a cherry farm where they could have the wedding
they’d dreamt of. Merriweather’s band played,
and his bass solos shook bits of hay from the dusty catwalk.
People danced and cried out to Merriweather for more,
then laughed as a bale tumbled from the loft,
just missing the sweat-drenched drummer. Couples
snuck off to the guest cabins, and a young woman
claimed the pomegranate punch tasted like starlight.
A boy found a silver dollar on the freshly laid macadam.
Merriweather’s band debuted a Sam & Dave tune
they’d rearranged so that people looked at each other like
What the fuck, how can they be this good? During the break,
Merriweather spoke to a woman about her father’s death.
She was moved by how closely he listened,
and by the questions he asked that showed he understood.
She inquired whether Merriweather was married.
No one knew. Someone had glimpsed him at the wharf
with a much younger woman. The two stared
across the bay toward Bronson Island where
wild boar still roam and clusters of purple lichen
hang from the limbs of the vast spidery trees that vivisect
the tarnished sunlight. Tears filled Merriweather’s eyes
and the unreal eyes of the young woman beside him.

Christopher Brean Murray’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bennington Review, Colorado Review, Copper Nickel, Epoch, North American Review, Quarterly West, Washington Square Review, and other journals. He has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Inprint Houston, and he lives in Houston.

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