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One of my favorite memories is from Paris, the Musee L’Orangerie, going there with my friend Steve Jacobson. We walked into a room with four walls of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.”

Two weeks before he died, Steve was still teaching. He came into my empty classroom and told me that that day was his last day. He had resigned for medical reasons. I didn’t handle it very well. A hug was appropriate, but I’m not a man hugger. Steve said, “We’re a couple of Norwegian bachelors, aren’t we?” So I try to remember the happy day in the Musee L’Orangerie.

Jim Krotzman is a retired English teacher at Watertown (WI) High School. He is a struggling haiku poet and fisherman.

My cousin’s a surgeon and he said he only listens to beautiful music, sung sweetly by women, in languages he doesn’t understand, while he operates.  I was thinking of recording some songs in Portuguese for all his patients, prayers to a God that may be lonely and have less stuff to do.  One of those Gods who used to be really busy back when all the people used to call out his name in anguish and frustration and hope, all day long.  But who now bides his time in the heavens, whispering to all their descendants who can’t hear him.

Ida Hakkila hosts and picks out the records she plays on The Heavy Light Show, which airs on Radio Woodstock (WDST.)  She’s also been writing lately, a sitcom about God and money, and some songs in Portuguese.

He tore on and on, collapsing into a white ash whose crooked trunk kicked back abruptly, like an arthritic knee. He envied the ridged and scabrous armor (though there were scars, from the interrupted blows of woodpecker and woodsman’s ax) and the capacities to extend its fleshier limbs far from harm’s way. Yet in the dark once-green fraxinus leaves were falling, and crumbled to dust as he ran his fingers along their tender veins. The last boy to spend a night in the lap of this tree was also on the run. He was consumed by a fire in 1892.

–J. Michael Kilby

Michael Kilby is a Professor of Medicine, Division Chief, and AIDS researcher. He has a morbid addiction to stamp-collecting, movie matinees, and rock bands incorporating banjos.

The morning he died I dreamt of him floating in the sky with a smile on his face. Seventeen years earlier we had fallen in love.

Flying over frozen fields of ice in Iowa, I remembered Buddy Holly crashing yet nothing would have prevented me from taking that ride.

In Egypt, we rode camels past the pyramids. It was a long strange trip before we both gave up drugs and alcohol. At the last concert, in a light with faint shadows and a waft of marijuana, he stood back stage drinking a glass of red wine and smoking a joint.

–Pat Horner

This piece is an excerpt from “Touch of Gray.”

Visit Pat’s website here.

-Pat Horner is a painter/collage artist and writer exhibited and published in the US and abroad. Horner is a member of the Board of Directors of the Woodstock Artists’ Association Museum and a journalist, photographer, coach, teacher, publisher and editor at publications including the “The Woodstock Guide.” She’s currently writing fiction and memoir from Woodstock, NY.