by Tim Gilmore, 6/18/2012
The long thin road curves like a ribbon along the shore. Few tall trees in a field. Tall wooden telephone pole leans like a crucifix against dark clouds in a Southern Gothic landscape.
Then a 1940s bungalow. Then a house trailer. Then a split-level ranch house.
Walking along Trout River Drive under the overpass, the concrete incline and columns look about 800 years old. This close to downtown and a world away.
Down the ramshackle pier, a dozen boat slips, 15, 20, 75 boat slips, appears the vertical rhythm of mast after mast. Tattered flags, tattered characters. A boatyard is its own shantytown, floating, feels like a different planet, feels like a different country, and this makes her want to be a fugitive. She wants to need to hide, because the marina is the perfect hiding place.
Is there a city outside this marina at all? The marina contains itself entirely. She would have an address here, but it would be No Address. The marina is liminal, a hidden niche off-center in the hidden niches of a part of town to which most city residents won’t grant existence, a place more existent because it sustains such a strong sense of place in its apparently non-existent location.
She comes to the shantyboat. She comes to the plywood table. She comes to the white-haired hippie woman who lives on this boat and writes and teaches others how to write. She comes down the 600-foot dock in her business skirt and high heels and expensive sunglasses.
From a small distance over the water, figures appear seated at plastic tables on a back porch of a small house that happens to be a boat.
The writers’ workshop in the evening within the paneled walls of the main room of the boat occurs in a world apart. Inside the city are worlds apart that nestle inside worlds apart. This night on this boat on these waters down this dock down Trout River Drive down past the pecan trees and crumbling concrete bridge piers is one of them.