Oh yes, I was a Fellow at the Virginia Centre for the Creative Arts. It was summer 1990.
( How distant now. How many were the roads taken or not since that hot, hot June… Oh, the mystery of it all, my
life unwinding as a film-spool. ) I remember the great heat, even of that black lake, impenetrable, where I
went swimming with friend, Eddy Clift who later became the youngest Dean, then the youngest President of a well-
known Californian Fine Arts university.
The sound of a giant turtle plopping down from a tall tree into that still water would put my heart cross-wise.
( – Its jaws could crack thick wooden branches… )
My eyes in the great sun were peeled for copper-heads . I remember the thick black snake that daily rolled up from
its tree-nest to the kitchen backdoor for breakfast from Joe, himself very black. The week before I arrived as a
Composer Fellow Joe’s brother, Jim, had died in mysterious circumstances ; while fishing from his boat in the
shallow water at the wooded end of Sweetbriar Lake; he had apparently toppled in and drowned. We Fellows, mostly
from New York and the North , didn’t believe a word of the official police version. My nose smelled racialism,
foul play. Everybody clammed up. I remember , too, of a Sunday going to a Jerry Falwell service in his church in
nearby Lynchburg. Wacky. ( Yes, ” Lynch ” as in ” they lynched blacks in the good old days… ” ). My studio , piano
and bed were almost cool. I, too, gave an evening-presentation to my fellow- Fellows of my recent Opera,
“GILGAMESH ” before I returned for ever to Europe and Hamburg, my family lapped around with great sorrow and
mental illness, total break-down.