Return to Forever

creative nonfiction flash

Jim Esch
3 min readJun 16, 2021


In Spring 2020, not long before the pandemic came crashing down, I published a couple of new pieces in Willows Wept Review. This one is a bit like a prose poem, yet non-fiction based, so I settled on “creative non-fiction flash.” The title “Return to Forever” is an allusion to the 1970’s jazz fusion band, a thematic focal point for the whole piece. Plastic Fantastic was a used record store in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, way back in the 1980's.

The fusion of June green leaves, a dry breeze, boundless blue above, and Return to Forever’s Where Have I Known You Before on vinyl, sounding as fresh as the brilliant day I discovered it, despite the crackle of dust in the grooves.

I’m remembering the bins at Plastic Fantastic, being taken in by that song title because it made me think of the crush of my life. I felt like I had known her since before birth, before breathing. How did Wordsworth tell it? Trailing clouds of glory.

No vocals, no lyrics, just Chick’s phat keyboards, Stanley Clarke’s bass popping, Al Dimeola’s fingers licking the fretboard, Lenny White pinning the groove to the kick beat.

When I listen through the graphic equalizer my daughter trash picked for me, treble boosted to compensate for my hearing loss, I follow each ray of the red sun and the lava light and rivers that tumble back to my secret place. The green metal table. A fresh bed spread. The hardwood and bending toes. The bedroom as open-bracket to the future. I am involved. Fueled up. High octane. None of my promises have been miscued. Funny how music and weather repeat themselves inside us.

Grandma once told me how when she was a kid she would lie in a field in Beechdale on the Philson farm after feeding the cows and pigs, and stare up at the perfect blue and think, how can any of this end? She told me this story on the way to the funeral home to see her daughter, my aunt, who took her own life. Before we start, we are forever and nowhere. Someday later or sooner we return. She asked the question desperately, like it could have no answer that could ever satisfy the little girl she was and the 70 year old woman she had become in the space of one breath.

Thanks for reading. Want to see more creative content like this? Check out more of my other poems and fiction and creative nonfiction.

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