Compartment C, Car 193 (1938)
"Rock-poster artists such as Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Victor
Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, and Wes Wilson generated an exciting
array of distinctive works featuring distorted hand-lettering and
vibrating colours . . ."
de Young Museum, “The Summer of Love Experience”
A green compartment of varied shades. She reads the script,
takes little notice of the space. Midnight blue, her dress
matches her hat. The brim swoops over her face concealing
her eyes, but no one needs to see her eyes, they are on the
page. She is
alone, solitude the muse for now. Where is she going? The
sun sets in the rectangular window; darkened hills, an
arched bridge over its own small river. White snow on the
side, white as the page she reads. The play will never be
produced. Maybe she will choose
the script still on the seat beside her. The script of her
parallel life. He might have painted her as a dancer doing a
striptease across the stage, breasts flung forward, nipples
red as cherries ready to be picked. Or a woman staring at
her polished fingernails, red
too, in an all-night diner where the cook and the man she
just met talk eternal baseball. They will never know who
wins. On a closer look they are not scripts she reads but
pamphlets by Swiss chemist Dr Albert Hofmann. Seeking a
blood stimulant, he is
the first to synthesize LSD. She has a rare disease slowing
her circulation. This made her parents overly protective;
despite her stylish air, she is painfully shy. She will never
try LSD, dying before it becomes widely distributed but her
daughter will. Her daughter will
be an artist in San Francisco who uses psychedelic designs
to promote rock shows at the Fillmore. Men will dominate
the market, but her daughter will possess a strong drive and
a flare for colour no one else can match. Here in
Compartment C a man is about
to enter. He will use a line from a movie to engage her.
When she looks at him she thinks of Errol Flynn in Robin
Hood and is smitten. The pamphlet falls from her hands.
The shade on the window is lowered. The canvas goes
the muted tones become intense, and intertwine.
Virginia Barrett’s work has most recently appeared, or is forthcoming in The Writer’s Chronicle, Narrative, Poetry of Resistance (University of Arizona Press), New Mexico Review, and Forage. She received a 2017 writer’s residency grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of Taos, NM. Her chapbook, Stars By Any Other Name, was a semi-finalist for the Frost Place Chapbook Competition sponsored by Bull City Press, 2017. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and a MAT in Art from Rhode Island School of Design.
The Ekphrastic Review
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