The Lover of Horses

by Tess Gallagher

They say my great-grandfather was a gypsy, but the most popular explanation for his behavior was that he was a drunk. How else could the women have kept up the scourge of his memory all these years, had they not had the usual malady of our family to blame? Probably he was both a gypsy and a drunk.

Still, I have reason to believe the gypsy in him had more to do with the turn his life took than his drinking. I used to argue with my mother about this, even though most of the information I have about my great-grandfather came from my mother, who got it from her mother. A drunk, I kept telling her, would have had no initiative. He would simply have gone down with his failures and had nothing to show for it. But my great-grandfather had eleven children, surely a sign of industry, and he was a lover of horses. He had so many horses he was what people called “horse poor.”

I did not learn, until I traveled to where my family originated at Collenamore in the west of Ireland, that my great-grandfather had most likely been a “whisperer,” a breed of men among the gypsies who were said to possess the power of talking sense into horses. These men had no fear of even the most malicious and dangerous horses. In fact, they would often take the wild animal into a closed stall in order to perform their skills.

Whether a certain intimacy was needed or whether the whisperers simply wanted to protect their secret conversations with horses is not known. One thing was certain - that such men gained power over horses by whispering. What they whispered no one knew. But the effectiveness of their methods was renowned, and anyone for counties around who had an unruly horse could send for a whisperer and be sure that the horse would take to heart whatever was said and reform his behavior from that day forth.

By all accounts, my great-grandfather was like a huge stallion himself, and when he went into a field where a herd of horses was grazing, the horses would suddenly lift their heads and call to him. Then his bearded mouth would move, and though he was making sounds that could have been words, which no horse would have had reason to understand, the horses would want to hear; and one by one they would move toward him across the open space of the field. He could turn his back and walk down the road, and they would follow him. He was probably drunk, my mother said, because he was swaying and mumbling all the while. Sometimes he would stop deadstill in the road and the horses would press up against him and raise and lower their heads as he moved his lips. But because these things were only seen from a distance, and because they have eroded in the telling, it is now impossible to know whether my great-grandfather said anything of importance to the horses. Or even if it was his whispering that had brought about their good behavior. Nor was it clear, when he left them in some barnyard as suddenly as he’d come to them, whether they had arrived at some new understanding of the difficult and complex relationship between men and horses.

Only the aberrations of my great-grandfather’s relationship with horses have survived - as when he would bathe in the river with his favorite horse or when, as my grandmother told my mother, he insisted on conceiving his ninth child in the stall of a bay mare named Redwing. Not until I was grown and going through the family Bible did I discover that my grandmother had been this ninth child, and so must have known something about the matter.

These oddities in behavior lead me to believe that when my great-grandfather, at the age of fifty-two, abandoned his wife and family to join a circus that was passing through the area, it was not simply drunken bravado, nor even the understandable wish to escape family obligations. I believe the gypsy in him finally got the upper hand, and it led to such a remarkable happening that no one in the family has so far been willing to admit it: not the obvious transgression - that he had run away to join the circus - but that he was in all likelihood a man who had been stolen by a horse.

This is not an easy view to sustain in the society we live in. But I have not come to it frivolously, and have some basis for my belief. For although I have heard the story of my great-grandfather’s defection time and again since childhood, the one image which prevails in all versions is that of a dappled gray stallion that had been trained to dance a variation of the mazurka. So impressive was this animal that he mesmerized crowds with his sliding step-and-hop to the side through the complicated figures of the dance, which he performed, not in the way of Lippizaners - with other horses and their riders - riderless and with the men of the circus company as his partners.

It is known that my great-grandfather became one of these dancers. After that he was reputed, in my mother’s words, to have gone “completely to ruin.” The fact that he walked from the house with only the clothes on his back, leaving behind his own beloved horses (twenty-nine of them to be exact), further supports my idea that a powerful force must have held sway over him, something more profound than the miseries of drink or the harsh imaginings of his abandoned wife.

Not even the fact that seven years later he returned and knocked on his wife’s door, asking to be taken back, could exonerate him from what he had done, even though his wife did take him in and looked after him until he died some years later. But the detail that no one takes note of in the account is that when my great-grandfather returned, he was carrying a saddle blanket and the black plumes from the headgear of one of the circus horses. This passes by even my mother as simply a sign of the ridiculousness of my great-grandfather’s plight - for after all, he was homeless and heading for old age as a “good for nothing drunk” and a “fool for horses.”

No one had bothered to conjecture what these curious emblems - saddle blanket and plumes - must have meant to my great-grandfather. But he hung them over the foot of his bed - “like a fool,” my mother said. And sometimes when he got very drunk he would take up the blanket and, wrapping it like a shawl over his shoulders, he would grasp the plumes. Then he would dance the mazurka. He did not dance in the living room but took himself out into the field, where the horses stood at attention and watched as if suddenly experiencing the smell of the sea or a change of wind in the valley. “Drunks don’t care what they do,” my mother would say as she finished her story about my great-grandfather. “Talking to a drunk is like talking to a stump.”

Ever since my great-grandfather’s outbreaks of gypsy necessity, members of my family have been stolen by things - by mad ambitions, by musical instruments, by otherwise harmless pursuits from mushroom hunting to childbearing or, as was my father’s case, by the more easily recognized and popular obsession with card playing. To some extent, I still think it was failure of imagination in this respect that brought about his diminished prospects in the life of our family.

But even my mother had been powerless against the attraction of a man so convincingly driven. When she met him at a birthday dance held at the country house of one of her young friends, she asked what he did for a living. My father pointed to a deck of cards in his shirt pocket and said, “I play cards.” But love is such as it is, and although my mother was otherwise a deadly practical woman, it seemed she could fall in love with no man but my father.

So it is possible that the propensity to be stolen is somewhat contagious when ordinary people come into contact with people such as my father. Though my mother loved him at the time of the marriage, she soon began to behave as if she had been stolen from a more fruitful and upright life which she was always imagining might have been hers.

My father’s card playing was accompanied, to no one’s surprise, by bouts of drinking. The only thing that may have saved our family from a life of poverty was the fact that my father seldom gambled with money. Such were his charm and powers of persuasion that he was able to convince other players to accept his notes on everything from the fish he intended to catch next season to the sale of his daughter’s hair.

I know about this last wager because I remember the day he came to me with a pair of scissors and said it was time to cut my hair. Two snips and it was done. I cannot forget the way he wept onto the backs of his hands and held the braids together like a broken noose from which a life had suddenly slipped. I was thirteen at the time and my hair had never been cut. It was his pride and joy that I had such hair. But for me it was only a burdensome difference between me and my classmates, so I was glad to be rid of it. What anyone else could have wanted with my long shiny braids is still a mystery to me.

When my father was seventy-three he fell ill and the doctors gave him only a few weeks to live. My father was convinced that his illness had come on him because he had hit a particularly bad losing streak at cards. He had lost heavily the previous month, and items of value, mostly belonging to my mother, had disappeared from the house. He developed the strange idea that if he could win at cards he could cheat the prediction of the doctors and live at least into his eighties.

By this time I had moved away from home and made a life for myself in an attempt to follow the reasonable dictates of my mother, who had counseled her children severely against all manner of rash ambition and foolhardiness. Her entreaties were leveled especially in my direction since I had shown a suspect enthusiasm for a certain pony at around the age of five. And it is true I felt I had lost a dear friend when my mother saw to it that the neighbors who owned this pony moved it to pasture elsewhere.

But there were other signs that I might wander off into unpredictable pursuits. The most telling of these was that I refused to speak aloud to anyone until the age of eleven. I whispered everything, as if my mind were a repository of secrets which could only be divulged in this intimate manner. If anyone asked me a question, I was always polite about answering, but I had to do it by putting my mouth near the head of my inquisitor and using only my breath and lips to make my reply.

My teachers put my whispering down to shyness and made special accommodations for me. When it came time for recitations I would accompany the teacher into the cloakroom and there whisper to her the memorized verses or the speech I was to have prepared. God knows, I might have continued on like this into the present if my mother hadn’t plotted with some neighborhood boys to put burrs into my long hair. She knew by others signs that I had a terrible temper, and she was counting on that to deliver me into the world where people shouted and railed at one another and talked in an audible fashion about things both common and sacred.

When the boys shut me into a shed, according to plan, there was nothing for me to do but to cry out for help and to curse them in a torrent of words I had only heard used by adults. When my mother heard this she rejoiced, thinking that at last she had broken the treacherous hold of the past over me, of my great-grandfather’s gypsy blood and the fear that against all her efforts I might be stolen away, as she had been, and as my father had, by some as yet unforeseen predilection. Had I not already experienced the consequences of such a life in our household, I doubt she would have been successful, but the advantages of an ordinary existence among people of a less volatile nature had begun to appeal to me.

It was strange, then, that after all the care my mother had taken for me in this regard, when my father’s illness came on him, my mother brought her appeal to me. “Can you do something?” she wrote, in her cramped, left-handed scrawl. “He’s been drinking and playing cards for three days and nights. I am at my wit’s end. Come home at once.”

Somehow I knew this was a message addressed to the very part of me that most baffled and frightened my mother - the part that belonged exclusively to my father and his family's inexplicable manias.

When I arrived home my father was not there.

“He’s at the tavern. In the back room,” my mother said. “He hasn’t eaten for days. And if he’s slept, he hasn’t done it here.”

I made up a strong broth, and as I poured the steaming liquid into a Thermos I heard myself utter syllables and other vestiges of language which I could not reproduce if I wanted to. “What do you mean by that?” my mother demanded, as if a demon had leapt out of me. “What did you say?” I didn’t - I couldn’t - answer her. But suddenly I felt that an unsuspected network of sympathies and distant connections had begun to reveal itself to me in my father’s behalf.

There is a saying that when lovers have need of moonlight, it is there. So it seemed, as I made my way through the deserted town toward the tavern and card room, that all nature had been given notice of my father’s predicament, and that the response I was waiting for would not be far off.

But when I arrived at the tavern and had talked my way past the barman and into the card room itself, I saw that my father had an enormous pile of blue chips at his elbow. Several players had fallen out to watch, heavy-lidded and smoking their cigarettes like weary gangsters. Others were slumped on folding chairs near the coffee urn with its empty “Pay Here” Styrofoam cup.

My father’s cap was pushed to the back of his head so that his forehead shone in the dim light, and he grinned over his cigarette at me with the serious preoccupation of a child who has no intention of obeying anyone. And why should he, I thought as I sat down just behind him and loosened the stopper on the Thermos. The five or six players still at the table casually appraised my presence to see if it had tipped the scales of their luck in an even more unfavorable direction. Then they tossed their cards aside, drew fresh cards, or folded.

In the center of the table were more blue chips, and poking out from my father’s coat pocket I recognized the promissory slips he must have redeemed, for he leaned to me and in a low voice, without taking his eyes from his cards, said, “I’m having a hell of a good time. The time of my life.”

He was winning. His face seemed ravaged by the effort, but he was clearly playing on a level that had carried the game far beyond the realm of mere card playing and everyone seemed to know it. The dealer cocked an eyebrow as I poured broth into the plastic Thermos cup and handed it to my father, who slurped from it noisily, then sat down.

“Tell the old kettle she’s got to put up with me for a few more years,” he said, and lit up a fresh cigarette. His eyes as he looked at me, however, seemed over-brilliant, as if doubt, despite all his efforts, had gained a permanent seat at his table. I squeezed his shoulder and kissed him hurriedly on his forehead. The men kept their eyes down, and as I paused at the door, there was a shifting of chairs and a clearing of throats. Just outside the room I nearly collided with the barman, who was carrying in a fresh round of beer. His heavy jowls waggled as he recovered himself and looked hard at me over the icy bottles. Then he disappeared into the card room with his provisions.

I took the long way home, finding pleasure in the fact that at this hour all the stoplights had switched onto a flashing-yellow caution cycle. Even the teenagers who usually cruised the town had gone home or to more secluded spots. Doubt, I kept thinking as I drove with my father’s face before me, that’s the real thief. And I knew my mother had brought me home because of it, because she knew that once again a member of our family was about to be stolen.

Two more days and nights I ministered to my father at the card room. I would never stay long because I had the fear myself that I might spoil his luck. But many unspoken tendernesses passed between us in those brief appearances as he accepted the nourishment I offered, or when he looked up and handed me his beer bottle to take a swig from - a ritual we’d shared since my childhood.

My father continued to win - to the amazement of the local barflies who poked their faces in and out of the card room and gave the dwindling three or four stalwarts who remained at the table a commiserating shake of their heads. There had never been a winning streak like it in the history of the tavern, and indeed, we heard later that the man who owned the card room and tavern had to sell out and open a fruit stand on the edge of town as a result of my father’s extraordinary good luck.

Twice during this period my mother urged the doctor to order my father home. She was sure my father would, at some fateful moment, risk the entire winnings in some mad rush toward oblivion. But his doctor spoke of a new “gaming therapy” for the terminally ill, based on my father’s surge of energies in the pursuit of his gambling. Little did he know that my father was, by that stage, oblivious to even his winning, he had gone so far into exhaustion.

Luckily for my father, the hour came when, for lack of players, the game folded. Two old friends drove him home and helped him down from the pickup. They paused in the driveway, one on either side of him, letting him steady himself. When the card playing had ended there had been nothing for my father to do but to get drunk.

My mother and I watched from the window as the men steered my father toward the hydrangea bush at the side of the house, where he relieved himself with perfect precision on one mammoth blossom. Then they hoisted him up the stairs and into the entryway. My mother and I took over from there.

“Give ’em hell, boys,” my father shouted after the men, concluding some conversation he was having with himself.

“You betcha,” the driver called back, laughing. Then he climbed with his companion into the cab of his truck and roared away.

Tied around my father’s waist was a cloth sack full of bills and coins which flapped and jingled against his knees as we bore his weight between us up the next flight of stairs and into the living room. There we deposited him on the couch, where he took up residence, refusing to sleep in his bed - for fear, my mother claimed, that death would know where to find him. But I preferred to think he enjoyed the rhythm of the household; from where he lay at the center of the house, he could overhear all conversations that took place and add his opinions when he felt like it.

My mother was so stricken by the signs of his further decline that she did everything he asked, instead of arguing with him or simply refusing. Instead of taking his winnings straight to the bank so as not to miss a day’s interest, she washed an old goldfish bowl and dumped all the money into it, most of it in twenty-dollar bills. Then she placed it on the coffee table near his head so he could run his hands through it at will, or let his visitors do the same.

“Money feels good on your elbow,” he would say to them. “I played them under the table for that. Yes sir, take a feel of that!” Then he would lean back on his pillows and tell my mother to bring his guests a shot of whiskey. “Make sure she fills my glass up,” he’d say to me so that my mother was certain to overhear. And my mother, who’d never allowed a bottle of whiskey to be brought into her house before now, would look at me as if the two of us were more than any woman should have to bear.

“If you’d only brought him home from that card room,” she said again and again. “Maybe it wouldn’t have come to this.”

This included the fact that my father had radically altered his diet. He lived only on greens. If it was green he would eat it. By my mother’s reckoning, the reason for his change of diet was that if he stopped eating what he usually ate, death would think it wasn’t him and go look for somebody else.

Another request my father made was asking my mother to sweep the doorway after anyone came in or went out.

“To make sure death wasn’t on their heels; to make sure death didn’t slip in as they left.” This was my mother’s reasoning. But my father didn’t give any reasons. Nor did he tell us finally why he wanted all the furniture moved out of the room except for the couch where he lay. And the money, they could take that away too.

But soon his strength began to ebb, and more and more family and friends crowded into the vacant room to pass the time with him, to laugh about stories remembered from his childhood or from his nights as a young man at the country dances when he and his older brother would work all day in the cotton fields, hop a freight train to town and dance all night. Then they would have to walk home, getting there just at daybreak in time to go straight to work again in the cotton fields.

“We were like bulls then,” my father would say in a burst of the old vigor, then close his eyes suddenly as if he hadn’t said anything at all.

As long as he spoke to us, the inevitability of his condition seemed easier to bear. But when, at the last, he simply opened his mouth for food or stared silently toward the far wall, no one knew what to do with themselves.

My own part in that uncertain time came to me accidentally. I found myself in the yard sitting on a stone bench under a little cedar tree my father loved because he liked to sit there and stare at the ocean. The tree whispered, he said. He said it had a way of knowing what your troubles were. Suddenly a craving came over me. I wanted a cigarette, even though I don’t smoke, hate smoking, in fact. I was sitting where my father had sat, and to smoke seemed a part of some rightness that had begun to work its way within me. I went into the house and bummed a pack of cigarettes from my brother. For the rest of the morning I sat under the cedar tree and smoked. My thoughts drifted with its shifting and murmurings, and it struck me what a wonderful thing nature is because it knows the value of silence, the innuendos of silence and what they could mean for a wordbound creature such as I was.

I passed the rest of the day in a trance of silences, moving from place to place, revisiting the sites that I knew my father loved - the “dragon tree,” a hemlock which stood at the far end of the orchard, so named for how the wind tossed its triangular head; the rose arbor where he and my mother had courted; the little marina where I sat in his fishing boat and dutifully smoked the hated cigarettes, flinging them one by one into the brackish water.

I was waiting to know what to do for him, he who would soon be a piece of useless matter of no more consequence than the cigarette butts that floated and washed against the side of his boat. I could feel some action accumulating in me through the steadiness of water raising and lowering the boat, through the sad petal-fall of roses in the arbor and the tossing of the dragon tree.

That night when I walked from the house I was full of purpose. I headed toward the little cedar tree. Without stopping to question the necessity of what I was doing, I began to break off the boughs I could reach and to pile them on the ground.

“What are you doing?” my brother’s children wanted to know, crowding around me as if I might be inventing some new game for them.

“What does it look like?” I said.

“Pulling limbs off the tree,” the oldest said. Then they dashed away in a pack under the orchard trees, giggling and shrieking.

As I pulled the boughs from the trunk I felt a painful permission, as when two silences, tired of holding back, give over to each other some shared regret. I made my bed on the boughs and resolved to spend the night there in the yard, under the stars, with the hiss of the ocean in my ear, and the maimed cedar tree standing over me like a gift torn out of its wrappings.

My brothers, their wives and my sister had now begun their nightly vigil near my father, taking turns at staying awake. The windows were open for the breeze and I heard my mother trying to answer the question why I was sleeping outside on the ground - “like a damned fool” I knew they wanted to add.

“She doesn’t want to be here when death comes for him,” my mother said, with an air of clairvoyance she had developed from a lifetime with my father. “They’re too much alike,” she said.

The ritual of night games played by the children went on and on past their bedtimes. Inside the house, the kerosene lantern, saved from my father’s childhood home, had been lit - another of his strange requests during the time before his silence. He liked the shadows it made and the sweet smell of the kerosene. I watched the darkness as the shapes of my brothers and sister passed near it, gigantic and misshapen where they bent or raised themselves or crossed the room.

Out on the water the wind had come up. In the orchard the children were spinning around in a circle, faster and faster until they were giddy and reeling with speed and darkness. Then they would stop, rest a moment, taking quick ecstatic breaths before plunging again into the opposite direction, swirling round and round in the circle until the excitement could rise no higher, their laughter and cries brimming over, then scattering as they flung one another by the arms or chased each other toward the house as if their lives depended on it.

I lay awake for a long while after the footsteps had died away and the car doors had slammed over the goodbyes of the children being taken home to bed and the last of the others had been bedded down in the house while the adults went on waiting.

It was important to be out there alone and close to the ground. The pungent smell of the cedar boughs was around me, rising up in the crisp night air toward the tree, whose turnings and swayings had altered, as they had to, in order to accompany the changes about to over take my father and me. I thought of my great-grandfather bathing with his horse in the river, and of my father who had just passed through the longest period in his life without the clean feel of cards falling through his hands as he shuffled or dealt them. He was too weak now even to hold a cigarette; there was a burn mark on the hardwood floor where his last cigarette had fallen. His winnings were safely in the bank and the luck that was to have saved him had gone back to that place luck goes to when it is finished with us.

So this is what it comes to, I thought, and listened to the wind as it mixed gradually with the memory of children’s voices which still seemed to rise and fall in the orchard. There was a soft crooning of syllables that was satisfying to my ears, but ultimately useless and absurd. Then it came to me that I was the author of those unwieldy sounds, and that my lips had begun to work of themselves.

In a raw pulsing of language I could not account for, I lay awake through the long night and spoke to my father as one might speak to an ocean or the wind, letting him know by that threadbare accompaniment that the vastness he was about to enter had its rhythms in me also. And that he was not forsaken. And that I was letting him go. That so far I had denied the disreputable world of dancers and drunkards, gamblers and lovers of horses to which I most surely belonged. But from that night forward I vowed to be filled with the first unsavory desire that would have me. To plunge myself into the heart of my life and be ruthlessly lost forever.

Letter to Tess Gallagher from Jim Willis, May 31, 1993.

Dear Tess Gallagher,

I met you this morning at 7:30.

Today is Memorial Day, and so I “slept in” until after 7:00. At 7:30, I sat down in my favorite chair, accompanied by a mug of coffee, grabbed an anthology I had been reading, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama by X.J. Kennedy, and accidentally opened it to p. 388 where I was confronted by a picture of you and a few biographical details as a preface to “The Lover of Horses.” I then read the story twice and strangely found myself in tears both times.

About 8:40, I introduced my wife to you.

Claudia was also sleeping in – and deservedly so – but I wanted to share your story with her, and so I somewhat hastened her awakening. She too was very moved. Your story resonated deeply in my life, and it struck me that that’s what good writing is all about. When you brought your father the thermos of broth at the tavern and many “unspoken tendernesses” passed between the two of you, I was back with my now deceased father sharing moments of loving tenderness. When you tried to sleep on the cedar boughs and whisperingly told your father that “the vastness he was about to enter” had echoes and rhythms in your life, I relived my last conversation with my father when he comforted me with his thoughts about “passing over” and we talked about the fact that “the beat goes on” through me and through my children. I loved your story.

By 11:30 this morning, I was at the local bookstore and had ordered your volume of stories, The Lover of Horses. The lady at the store wasn’t familiar with your work, but when I related my morning’s experiences to her, she also ordered a copy for herself. I shared with her that you were married to Raymond Carver, and she told me that he was one of her favorite short story writers.

I returned home and read “Cathedral,” “A Small, Good Thing,” and “Where I’m Calling From,” and now I am writing this letter to you. Isn’t it amazing? As of last night, the names Tess Gallagher and Raymond Carver would have meant nothing to me, and today I have passionately encountered you both.

I hope it touched you that you have touched me. I feel I somehow know you, and we do share similar roots in the Northwest. I grew up in Yakima, and ironically, I passed through Port Angeles a couple of months ago, as my only sister now lives in Sequim. A fantasy I had this morning was that the next time I visit my sister, you could meet Claudia and me somewhere over a cup of coffee or even a “thermos of broth.”

Thank you for writing.


Jim Willis

Letter back to Jim Willis, June 15, 1993.

Dear Jim Willis,

What a moving account you shared with me of your having encountered my short story about my father’s death so early in your Memorial Day. I’m glad you got the tears I put into it and that they even replayed when you read the story again. As Flannery O’Connor says: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”

I wrote that story some months after the death of my father from lung cancer in 1982. Of course I didn’t know at the time that six years later I would lose Ray to the same disease. The story tries to enact the kinds of rituals there really wasn’t time for when the vicissitudes of illness bear upon the loved ones at the time of death. I felt so grateful to the story, and still do, for carrying that important cargo of love and loss. And re-finding. I really feel that my father received that gift and continues to receive it when people like you read the story and weep. It is as if my father goes out and meets the fathers of others. Joins some great company of lost fathers.

I’m glad further that you shared my story with that one closest to you, your wife. And that is sparked you both to read Raymond Carver and more of my own work. I’ll slip in a card with the names of some books of mine you might not have seen on the back. They are both books of poems and available in paperback. Moon Crossing Bridge was written for Ray. Portable Kisses is a book of lighter poems, although there are some heavy punches in there as well. Especially one called “Sugarcane.”

I’m glad you got to read “Cathedral,” “A Small Good Thing” and “Where I’m Calling From”—all wonderful stories of Ray’s. “A Small Good Thing” is going to be in Robert Altman’s new film, Short Cuts, along with eight other stories of Ray’s. The film will premier October 1st at the New York Film Festival and I am going to be there. It’s been a very exhilarating time, working with Altman on the project.

It’s lovely to know that your sister lives nearby and that you even visited here recently. Of course it would be great to meet up for a coffee. These things do have to be somewhat arranged, since my life is busier than one would guess for living in such a seemingly tranquil place. I try to spend as much time at my writing as possible, though it’s fragile even so to get a day in which I can really concentrate. The best thing is to let me know when you sense a period when you’ll be here and we can actually set up an afternoon time to meet. I travel a fair amount and also have frequent guests, so that’s why we’ll have to plan. So drop a line when you see a visit coming. Please include a phone number and I’ll do my best to make contact. Since I’m working at my writing, there isn’t a convenient phone-way to reach me. Sorry this is so cumbersome!

Anyway, thanks again so much for letting me hear how my writing affected you. It’s great encouragement for me to go back to my fiction writing. I’ve been away far too long. But poems are my first love and they seem more manageable in the kind of life I have right now. I’m hoping it won’t always be this way.

With every good wish, and thanks again—

Tess Gallagher