The Water Tower – a chapter from my forthcoming memoir Looking for Chickens In the Dark


for a long time i was enamored with the water tower i looked out at from my window in the Old Hotel in Pleasureville, KY. when i wrote or drew i might turn my head away from the screen to finish a thought, my eyes went to the window, and straight to the tower from there. or, i would catch it as i came back inside from my big front porch. i looked back at it when i latched the screen door shut again. sometimes the water tower looked awful white to me. other times it was a hospital blue. it seemed to pulsate. it glowed. it radiated.

i often thought about this. what destined the tower to be which color. what made it white now, blue later on? was it how blue the sky was? was it on account of there being no clouds or many clouds and what type of cloud? what about a gray day compared with a bright one? and time of day, too, may factor in. could it be the humidity?

one day i was leaning down to take off a boot when i turned my head, and inadvertently glanced out the window. today the water tower was white. it was a cloudy day with medium sun. mid to late afternoon. made sense to me. i got off the other boot and climbed in bed.

my bed was also my office, dining car, art studio and home theatre. i leaned back on a sheave of down pillows. looked out the window again; this time the water tower was blue.

i got up for a closer examination; standing close to the window i saw two water towers. a white one directly north, which i could see without leaving the bed, and a blue one just out of the frame. you had to be looking north-east to see the blue one. which i had, many times, standing on the front porch to photograph a sunrise. or talking to Shane who had the other side of the front porch. when he and i talked we did so from each our own side of the porch, sitting in a chair facing out, as opposed to facing each other. how many times did i look out at the blue tower, listening to Shanes life-story? telling him mine. we were probably the only people who would listen to us.

from my front porch chair i could not see the white water tower, only the blue. if i was on my bed i could only see the white one. she stood gleaming like a blank sheet of paper i could do anything i liked with: write, draw, collage, de coupage, design a book, make spitballs, paper aeroplanes, origami. i could make everything in the world (except money) with this white tower. for 17 months i thought she was my one and only.

the thrill was gone with the mystery solved. the towers were a constant that changed colors only according to what light and which shadows, like anything else. the white tower was a muse. she taught me to hold on to awe and wonder as though they were twins id given birth to.


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